Is “Van Mission” a Real San Francisco Neighborhood?

Home sellers and buyers can get downright pernicious when it comes to neighborhood prestige.

Of course, this is highly subjective: The Tenderloin, for example, sports some of San Francisco’s most beautiful architecture and most fascinating neighborhood history. But some people still nurse a grudge against the name anyway.

So what do you do when you don’t want to cop to the neighborhood your latest listing lies in? In many cases, you invent a brand new one: Take this breaking offering at 42 Otis Street, a new boutique condo collection near the intersection of Mission and South Van Ness.

The first thing the average observer will notice is that this is a rare SF home listing asking less than half a million dollars; the second thing will be this glaring phrase in the ad copy: “Located in San Francisco’s newest exciting neighborhood, VanMission.”

Oh my.

Well, give them this, at least the name makes sense. And Otis Street is, in its way, a place ripe for reinvention: These blocks suffer from a chronic lack of personality, but they are within skipping distance of Hayes Valley, the Mission, SoMa, etc. Also remember that we’re only a few years removed from a City Hall campaign to rebrand this area as “the Hub,” which was just never going to make it.

This of course not the first utterance of this would-be designation: It stretches back to at least 2014, engineered by, wouldn’t you know it, the very same development block, although usually it’s two words, “Van Mission.”

Most people of course just call this block part of West SoMa, but it is true that the area lacks definition, and a name all its own couldn’t hurt. Google Trends suggests that use of this specific term over the past five years has been, well, intermittent, so maybe this isn’t the one.

Then again, stranger things have happened: Realtors pushed names like the East Cut and NoPa to initial skepticism from SF grognards, and while we’ve still yet to hear anybody fondly recall their years growing up in good old NoPa, the names are at least still in circulation in spite of intransigence.

New neighborhoods develop out of the flanks and intersections of old ones all the time. The process is organic, but not immune to ulterior influence–and also far from predictable.

So what says the jury? Is “Van Mission” ever going to be a thing, or is it back to the bullpen?

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