It’s a little messy, but we’ve mashed up the Housing for Families with Children report’s map of where the children under 19 live in San Francisco, both in terms of absolute numbers and the relative densities of households with children, and the rough neighborhood boundaries for the city.

And while the Outer/Central Sunset/Parkside lays claim to the most children overall, in part due to its relative size, the neighborhoods with the highest percentage of households with children in San Francisco are Sea Cliff, Treasure Island, and the southern neighborhoods in real estate District 10.

Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by jK

    Apparently, you need to be able to afford to live at Seacliff to have kids.

    • Posted by cfb

      Or treasure islsnd, or the sunset, or most of the southern half of the city, all of which are much more affordable than seacliff.

  2. Posted by Veritas

    Friendly note to editor: It’s Sea Cliff, two words. As carved in the pillars.

  3. Posted by c_q

    Also, if you made a map of each neighborhood’s housing types, you’ll find the dark blue areas are predominantly SFR units, whereas the light blue areas are predominantly apartment/condo units. So people with kids typically want houses, avoiding apartments and condos, but there is almost no new SFR built anymore, unless we start filling the bay or ocean.

    • Posted by scott f

      I recommend reading the report. It talks at length about why our current multifamily housing stock doesn’t appeal to families and how we can do better, without expecting every family to get a single-family home, which as you observe would be unrealistic.

    • Posted by zig

      Some of this is demographics as well. Many lower and middle income people would raise families in flats but these are increasingly desirable areas for singles or places with rent control space hoarders

  4. Posted by anon

    So the areas with the highest percentage of children are the poorest. No surprise, unfortunately. Funny, I’m pretty well off and still can’t afford children. I wouldn’t have kids in SF unless I had $500k in household income at the very least.

    • Posted by scott f

      Yeah, this is why I have mixed feelings about the report going into building design so much — #1 issue is cost due to the overall housing shortage. But I like how the report suggests undoing the 1970s downzoning of the west side to enable missing middle housing. Good sign there.

    • Posted by zig

      How ridiculous

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Really? You couldn’t scrape by on $450k/year? Really?

    • Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

      About $300K is adequate. And if the public schools were half decent, that number would go down by $40K per child.

      • Posted by Friscan

        The public schools are more than halfway decent. Find a better high school in the state than Lowell. Or a better bench of high schools than Lincoln and Washington and Gateway. My kids sailed through the UCs after they got their free education at SFUSD. And they were a heck of a lot more street-smart and grounded than some of the prep-school types they met in college..

        • Posted by wonkster

          My child is in a public middle school, went to a great public elementary, and will almost certainly go to a public high school. I agree with Friscan. SFUSD is actually pretty good, and I like the fact that my child meets kids from lots of backgrounds. And we live in an apartment. And we don’t make $300k. Or drive a Mercedes, Tesla, etc. And we take Muni. And sometimes we feel sorry for the homeless. So I guess I disagree with “Gentrified is a dirty word for clean”. Heck I disagree with his/her name even.

      • Posted by no_ vally

        I have to agree that all roads forcing middle class families out of SF lead back to the public school system. We may have perhaps the best public high school in the state, but we sorely lack the quantity of quality elementary schools AND have a horrific lottery process for average citizens. Anyone who argues otherwise has not had the joy of suffering through the torturous process of deciding what to do when your kid starts Kindergarten. If you’re not CTIP and/or AA for the top 5 schools, heavy odds are you’ll end up going private or moving out of the city.

        Consider Clarendon as the perennial top ranked SF elementary school: a few years back, they received 1,800 applicants for 88 incoming seats. The first 40 spots went to siblings of current students, followed by 30 seats for CTIP students. That left just 18 slots for other applicants, before allowing for preference granted to families living in the neighborhood. So for a regular everyday family living in SF, your odds might be 10/1800 of getting a spot at Clarendon…or 0.5%.

        And if you look at Clarendon’s current rank among all Bay Area elementary public schools where does it rank? #139. And number 418 in the state. Other traditionally top elementary schools in SF don’t fare much better. Grattan? #170. Rooftop? #191.

        So you face incredibly slim odds of getting into a public elementary school that doesn’t even rank in the top 100 in the Bay Area.

        Where are the top rated Bay Area schools? Sure enough, places like Palo Alto, Los Altos, Woodside, Piedmont, Lafayette…places we’ve all had friends with young kids move. In almost all cases cheaper houses PSF with more space and real yards…and better schools without suffering private school tuition.

        It’s no wonder SF has the lowest percentage of minors among any major metro area…AND the highest percentage of kids in private school (even outranking NYC). The system is broken on many levels but sadly those who ‘lose’ the lottery and end up either leaving the city or enrolling in private schools have no reason to fight the fight as an outsider and try to fix what’s broken.

        • Posted by Dave

          Great post. Very informative. Indeed two neighbor familieswith small kids have moved to Lafayette in the past year or so.

        • Posted by shza

          Exactly. This is why we moved to Piedmont. It also had the unexpected upside of shortening our daily work commute to/from the FiDi. And we — like pretty much everyone else in Piedmont — are people that could afford to live/own in SF and pay for private schools. Just not worth it.

          • Posted by Bayview_Rising

            We bought a house (via OMI eviction) the year we needed to apply for Kindergarten for our oldest. He was already in a private, bi-lingual school for 2 years, which he loved (and is a 25 minute drive from the house). We happened to move to a CTIP area, so we toured nearly a dozen schools — the “best” ones as well as everything in under a 10 minute commute (via bike, car, or train, T-line) from our house. What we found was shocking: schools are effectively segregated. The only programs we found that were not 95%+ homogeneous were Rooftop and Grattan (see also this NPR Story).

            We applied to two schools: Rooftop (1st choice, which we got) and Daniel Webster. Now, consider the after-care programs for a family w/ 2 working adults: Rooftop’s does not have space for every kid who wants access and those who had it before are guaranteed a slot — it’s ~$420/mo.

            In the end, we decided (1) the cost of a nanny was going to rival the cost of private school (at least for the first year); and (2) our child loved the school he was in and at the end of the day, if your kid loves going to school, don’t mess with that.

            It’s roughly $30k per year per kid, after taxes once you include tuition (~$22k), camps for 4-6 weeks during school breaks ($450/wk/kid), aftercare (~$170/mo/kid), and summer camps (~$300-500/wk/kid with grandparents taking them to/from because camps are ~9-3). On a family income of ~$350-$400k/yr w/ a mortgage+tax liability of ~$6k/mo, it’s totally doable — we don’t have enough money for lavish vacations (we all fly somewhere usually once a year), but we have everything we need to thrive.

        • Posted by dt

          You need to break out the data by demographic group. Our kids attend a school with an API for their demographic of around 950, but the overall school API is probably 800. I’m guessing for the children of the college educated, the API for many SF elementary schools is 930 or higher (these are the old metrics, but the new test results bear out the same result).

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            @ Bayview rising: What do you mean tuition, if your kid goes to Rooftop?

        • Posted by Been There

          Thanks for the insightful comments.

          Perhaps it’s a vicious cycle. Low child population likely means voters (and the “yes” men and women in SF government who follow rather than lead) collectively don’t prioritize schooling as highly as other municipalities with higher child populations do.

          I feel these rankings split hairs a bit. Looks like the two schools that top the list in SF are Miraloma and Peabody. Who knew?!

          The reality is that CA public schools have been crushed in the nationwide rankings since Prop 13 passed in 1978. So is a great public school for CA always great ? My kids gonthe SFUSD so I care.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      i agree. need $500K plus income for 1 kid to be completely comfortable with being able to own a home, pay for private school, etc

      • Posted by Friscan

        Why would a family need to pay for private schools in San Francisco? Sure, there are some good private schools here, and my friends’ kids did well in college and life afterward with the prep the private schools provided — but really only as well as the public-schooled kids of the majority of my friends. And this was in the 1990s and 2000s, when the SFUSD schools weren’t as strong as they are now.

      • Posted by Brisket

        Utterly ridiculous. You do not need to send our kids to private school and if you want your kids to live such a sheltered life you probably shouldn’t be living in the city anyway. I don’t make anywhere near that amount, own my own home and am raising a kid here, own a car, go to Tahoe on the weekends, etc., and am completely “comfortable” .

        • Posted by shza

          Sure, but when did you buy your home? I think moto’s number is about right for someone who is trying to start saving for a down payment now.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            I have never earned $500k and I own a home

          • Posted by AnonAnon

            I guess it depends on what your hypothetical is. Sure, if you want to drop into town today and buy a 3500 square foot home in Noe, send you kids to private school and eat at Saison every weekend you might need that much.

          • Posted by shza

            SFRealist, sure, but when did you buy your home? That’s the whole point.

            AnonAnon, I know your hypo is tongue-in-cheek, but nightly dinners for a family at Saison would alone cost you close to $1M a year.

  5. Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

    The report is interesting though I’m skeptical that a great many people who own single family homes on the west side will want to add additional units even if the city makes low interest/no interest loans to do so. (I think “Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit” might be my favorite SF Planning-speak term du jour).

    Planning also has the liberty to ignore fire department and building department concerns in their forward-thought experiments, something developers/homeowners do not.

  6. Posted by Daved

    I’m intrigued by the 8 children who live in Lands End/ The VA Hospital?

    • Posted by AnonAnon

      And I guess those runaway teens living in GG Park don’t count as kids.

  7. Posted by moto mayhem

    there a lot of kids in the presidio because it is very conducive to kids. lots of 3+ bdroom places, yards, and playgrounds. i lived in the presidio for a few years. it is very family friendly and a nice community.

  8. Posted by TwinPeaker

    The reason for all this couldn’t be more clear – if you can’t afford to send kids to public school in SF, you move out of the city. The more interesting question is whether this is something that should be improved or do we just continue sticking to the failed SF school policies that caused this in the first place. I do not know a single parent that is happy with the school situation in SF. We should get rid of the lottery system and let parents send their kids to a school in their neighborhood.

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