LGBT Community: Pioneers of Gentrification

(Editor’s Note: With this issue, the Bay Times welcomes new columnist America Foy, a top-producing real estate agent at Sotheby’s International Realty. Foy has over a decade of experience in the industry and a lifetime of experience in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both he and Taylor Sublett, also from Sotheby’s, can assist you if you want to buy or sell residential, commercial, or investment properties throughout the Bay Area. Recent East Bay residents, Taylor and America will help you sell in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties. They specialize in high-end luxury real estate in Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont, and San Francisco.)

Real Estate – By America Foy

Our community has a long and rich history of pioneering. Courage is one of our defining characteristics as a group. From Alexander the Great to Angela Davis, the LGBT community is on the forefront of any push forward. This is true for real estate as well, so put on your big person pants and let’s talk about what’s happening in real estate.

Many of you may be long term San Francisco residents, or some of you may be new to the area, but we all need a quick refresher about the San Francisco real estate market and the dreaded “g” word: gentrification.

Gentrification, per Wikipedia, is “…typically the result of investment in a community by local government, community activists, or business groups, and can often spur economic development, attract business, and lower crime rates.” Sound familiar? Being from, or living in, San Francisco we know it does because we have all seen it. I grew up in Bernal Heights, and spent a lot of time in the Castro over the last 25 years, and I can tell you from personal experience it has really changed.

Our community went to depressed areas and spiffed them up. Our community started businesses in those neighborhoods. Our community elected politicians in those areas to represent us. So, for those railing against gentrification and unaffordable housing in San Francisco, here’s a simple reminder: It’s all our fault.

The Castro was not always the neighborhood we know today. Bernal, Noe Valley, South of Market, The Fillmore, Pacific Heights…none of these neighborhoods were quite as nice, and definitely were not as expensive as they are today, just a few years back. Of course, every tech person in the world wants to live in San Francisco’s beautiful and vibrant and safe neighborhoods. We made them what they are today.

That damnable pioneering spirit gentrified San Francisco so completely that our work here is done. It’s become a homogenous place totally acceptable to the mainstream. We’ve planted our seeds and tended our crops and now it’s time to reap what we’ve sown and head off to new areas to do it all again. It’s time to saddle up the horses, or pack up the Volvo, and head east.

A number of viable, vibrant, and affordable cities and neighborhoods in the East Bay are crying out for our pioneering spirit, and this time it doesn’t need to be hardscrabble. Imagine we’ve just sold your 2-bedroom condo in the Castro for a million plus dollars. Well, that money will go pretty far in the East Bay, where the median price for a single family home is roughly $450,000.00. What are you going to do with the proceeds of your sale? Maybe a less desperate lifestyle is in order?

The lifestyle in the East Bay is higher quality and less stressful than that of The City. Want to join a country club, swim and tennis club or city club, ride horses, be on the board of directors for the symphony or ballet, or just not have to worry about street parking? The East Bay is for you. Restaurants, culture, theatre, dance and music await you, and all are just a 10-minute BART trip to San Francisco from Oakland.

For those worried about cutting the proverbial cord to the community, the East Bay is one of the most culturally diverse communities out there. A relatively recent census of same sex couples shows that the East Bay has the highest concentration of women same sex couples in the entire region. Oakland, in particular, has a number of gay-borhoods with Piedmont Avenue, Montclair, and the Upper Dimond being particularly gay friendly.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the pioneer lifestyle and head out for some new adventures. Call or email us if you would like to find out more about the East Bay, get an idea of what your house is worth, or if you want to make the jump.

To reach America Foy, please e-mail him at America.foy@sothebysrealty.com or phone him at 510-473-7775510-473-7775. To reach Taylor Sublett: taylor.sublett@sothebysrealty.com or 510-301-9569510-301-9569.