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Why Do Some Realtors Use “Eureka Valley” Instead of “Castro”?

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We find out why some prefer the old-school term over the more fabulous one—the answer may surprise you

We often feature homes here on Curbed SF—gorgeous, unfathomable homes—that are located in Eureka Valley. Or the Castro. Or both. And we often receive reader queries wondering why realtors and sellers use "Eureka Valley" in lieu of the more colloquial "Castro," the unofficial mecca of the LGBTQ community. To find out more and to see if potential buyers, with varying shades of sexuality, are possibly turned off by the charged "Castro" name, we asked three local realtors to give us tell us what’s up.

First, some background. The borders of Eureka Valley, according to the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighbors Association and a 2007 San Francisco Planning Department study, goes like this:

  • Sanchez Street on the east
  • 22nd Street on the south
  • Twin Peaks on the west
  • Duboce Avenue on the north

Before the late 1960s/early 1970s, the neighborhood was considered a working-class Irish neighborhood. After a mixture of factory job loss and a migration of LGBT people looking for a safer home and a community to call their own, the neighborhood was transformed into the queer capitol it is today—aka, the Castro.

So why do some people still insist on calling it Eureka Valley? According to several SF-based realtor hotshots we spoke with, there are a few reasons. And the number one reason why the industry uses Eureka Valley over Castro is marketing cache. "Eureka Valley has a sexier appeal than Castro and it sounds more suburban and slightly more mature," says Vanguard Properties realtor Marco Carvajal.

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However, he goes on to say that, in addition to cache, "Eureka Valley, according to our real estate maps, is an all encompassing district name that features the Castro as an enclave, but by ‘enclave,’ I do not mean a portion of the neighborhood where the inhabitants are culturally or ethnically different."

When asked if more straight people are now moving into the typically queer neighborhood, Carvajal says that, yes, "more straight couples have been moving to the neighborhood over the past few years, but [to call it] it a mass gay exit or straight property gold rush would be a wild exaggeration."

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Danielle Lazier, real estate agent with Keller Williams San Francisco, tells Curbed SF that, while it is tempting to unearth an underlying bias in realtors’ use of Eureka Valley over the Castro, it’s done for a perfectly good reason.

"Our local San Francisco MLS breaks down the city into districts by numbers (1-10) and subdistricts by neighborhood name," says Lazier. "Currently, the area commonly known as the Castro falls into the ‘Eureka Valley’ subdistrict of District 5. "

When asked why, in 2016, some still use Eureka Valley over Castro, since the latter is far more recognized than the former, she muses, "The Board of Realtors has not always been the most diverse; however, it's equally plausible that the Castro was not yet in common usage as the neighborhood's name when the map was drawn."

(Speaking of maps, Google Maps uses The Castro over Eureka Valley.)

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Realtor Kevin Ho, of Kevin Ho & Jonathan McNarry Real Estate, corroborates what Carvajal and Lazier said, explaining to Curbed SF, "Eureka Valley encompasses the broader real estate subdistrict of District 5...the city has many more micro-neighborhoods than the realtor maps dare depict and this is just one more example of that."

When asked to get more granular, Ho tells us the distinction between Castro and Eureka Valley with the following specifics: "Eureka Valley refers to the hillier, tree-lined streets with stunning big single-family homes and views that are further away from the nightlife of the Castro" while the Castro "tends to focus on the lower parts of the area focused around Market, Castro and 18th Streets with a little bit of 19th Street thrown in."

He goes on to reveal that the LGBT community is also referred to as an "affinity group" within the jargon-laced tongue of real estate lexicon.

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"Apart from the elevation difference, the bigger difference is that Castro tends to draw more members of what realtors may euphemistically call an ‘affinity group,’ which is really code for LGBT people (with an emphasis on the G in that acronym)," explains Ho. "These folks will often make the Castro a destination for its nightlife when they’re younger and then as an area where they want to live as they get older. You like to live around people who are like you, right?"

Indeed.

Whether Castro or Eureka Valley, we beg you to check out the neighborhood(s) this coming Pride weekend.