The People's Guide offers tours of San Francisco neighborhoods led by loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other notables of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone.
Congratulations to the Bayview, the southside San Francisco neighborhood that nabbed the 2016 Curbed Cup. To tell us more about her neighborhood, we talked to Barbara Ockel, executive director of the Bayview Opera House, who has been an area resident since 1993.
Before we dive into the neighborhood, we should point out that it was difficult getting many of the area’s proud longtime residents to go on record about Bayview. Understandably so. Many locals worry about the rampant gentrification that befell the Mission happening to their neighborhood. As San Francisco continues to fall behind on new housing, residents of Bayview are concerned that another dramatic shift will happen in their neighborhood.
What brought you to Bayview?
Barbara Ockel: I had a studio at the shipyard for my business that I had at the time. I used to live in the Marina, but moved here shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake, which resulted in the loss of the Embarcadero freeway. Traffic became a significant issue, so I moved here after seeing a “for rent” sign near my office.
What do you like best about the neighborhood?
I like the fact that it’s a real community where people talk to each other on the streets. It’s a real working-class neighborhood. Real people and real families live here. I like the diversity of Bayview. You don’t see much of that in San Francisco anymore.
What do you like lest about the neighborhood?
I don’t like the dirt on the streets, nor the violence.
Better for buyers or renters?
Fine for either one, actually. Bayview has one of the highest percentage of home ownership in the city, so community pride here is strong.
Do you need a car to get around?
Yes, you kind of do because we don’t really have many grocery stores here. We have a lot of corner stores, but until recently, not a lot of major grocery stores. I walk to work, which is great, but I still feel like I need a car. I’ve also taken to using Uber and Lyft a lot, especially the pool feature since it’s cheaper. Taxi drivers won’t come here, so I’ve given up on cabs long ago.
Most reliable public transit?
The T-Third line, which takes you downtown.
Nearest grocery store?
Duc Loi. We could use more, though.
Best place to get a coffee?
Quite a few nice places for coffee. My absolute favorite place is Road House Coffee Company. I love going there. Very small and peaceful. Another really nice place is Javalencia Cafe on Third Street. It’s bigger and less crowded. A great place for meetings with plenty of tables. Very friendly staff, too.
There are several wonderful parks in Bayview, but my favorite is Heron's Head Park. It’s kind of a bird-watching area. It has beautiful views of the East Bay and the shipyard. Also, India Basin Park is great too. And then there’s a new one on the hill called Hilltop Park, a big grassy area with a new skateboard park. People go there with their dogs and kids.
The Third Street Village. A little community area where you can rent space for art and small events. It’s open to the community. Wonderful.
Beloved neighborhood joint?
My most recent favorite hangout is called Butchertown Gourmet, a sandwich place during the day and a wine bar at night. I always see people I know there. I get a beautiful glass of wine from people who make their wine right here in Bayview. Otherwise, I love Radio Africa Kitchen, an Ethiopian place. For breakfast, Auntie April’s Soul Food is a great place. One of my all-time favorites.
Most common sight?
Seeing people on the street who actually talk to each other. Such a rarity now in San Francisco.
I love it, period.