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Curbed Cup Final Four: (6) Bernal Heights vs. (15) Portola

We're down to the final four in the Curbed Cup, our annual award to the San Francisco neighborhood of the year. This week we'll have one matchup per day on Monday and Tuesday—with the polls left open for 24 hours—and by Wednesday only two contenders will be left vying for the prestigious fake trophy. Let the eliminations continue!

Nestled around that big, remote brown hill on the southern side of the city is Bernal Heights. Or at least it used to seem remote. As the southern side of the city has boomed over the past few years, Bernal Heights went from feeling like the city's best-kept secret to being at the epicenter of change. Houses sell for way over asking and Airbnb landlords seek to cash in on even the crappiest of apartments. Bernal was even named the hottest neighborhood in the United States by real estate website Redfin earlier this year. Despite all the fuss, Bernal hasn't lost its small-town feel. Strolling down Cortland Avenue, with its mix of cafés and local shops, feels more like being in a village—or maybe just the 90s?—than somewhere in the big city. That atmosphere is probably one of the reasons that Bernal is so beloved, but can it last?

Last year, Portola took the Curbed Cup in a surprise upset, defeating the Inner Sunset by 91 votes. In the intervening year, the neighborhood has enjoyed a quiet reign, and has continued to remain a more affordable option in this bonkers market of ours. Portola residents stayed mum in the early rounds of the Curbed Cup, making nary a peep, not even to nominate the object of their fierce devotion for said Cup. In the second round, they finally showed up and took umbrage at our speculation that their neighborhood could be a one-hit wonder.

"[L]ast year Four Barrel Coffee opened their second location in a converted garage, a completely redone Breakfast at Tiffany's reopened several months ago to lines out the door and a new nano brewery is opening up next year called Ferment Drink Repeat," writes commenter Alex740. "Our homes are reasonably priced (by SF standards) but often come with big back yards and views of downtown and the bay. We are home to a new library, a renovated Palega Rec Center, a well rated public grade school, a handful of private schools such as Alta Vista & The San Francisco School and our backyard is the second largest park in SF."

Adds commenter Art Is A Process: "I've lived in many places in San Francisco and this is the first time I feel like part of the community. Everyone is so friendly. It's not 'sexy' like the Mission, the Haight or the Castro, but the residents feel genuinely warm."


Poll results

· No Surprise: SF's Housing Market Was Bonkers This Spring [Curbed SF]
· 200-Square-Foot Utility Closet from Airbnb Goes Legit, Seeks a Whopping $1400/Month [Curbed SF]
· Trend Watch [Curbed SF]
· San Francisco of the Early 1990s Is Alive and Well and Open for Business at Thrillhouse Records [Bernalwood]
· The Curbed Cup Neighborhood of the Year: Portola! [Curbed SF]
· SF Is the Least Affordable Housing Market for the Middle Class [Curbed SF]