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Curbed Cup Elite Eight: (4) Hayes Valley vs. (12) Castro

Which neighborhood should advance to the Final Four? Cast your vote now!

Hayes Valley.
Photo by Charles Kremenak

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, moves forward with the Elite Eight neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (albeit fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which hoods should advance. Let the eliminations begin!

Hayes Valley

A neighborhood where Victorians mingle with contemporary homes, Hayes Valley is awash in new construction, new money, and new boutiques and restaurants. Which is another way of saying, don’t even think of renting or buying here unless you have cash to burn—and then some.

Rents in Hayes Valley are some of the highest in the city. And homes can be purchased upward of $1 million. At the very least.

But what this neighborhood lacks in affordable housing it makes up for in location (transportation in Hayes Valley is excellent, with several Muni lines running through it, as well as close proximity to the Van Ness Muni station) and amenities galore.

Patricia’s Green, for example, is the neighborhood’s unofficial town square, which features a pop-up movie theater, cafes, and ice cream shops.

Elsewhere, Rich Table spinoff RT Rotisserie proved wildly successful in 2017. And Portland-based ice cream shop Salt and Straw, which opened to long queues, especially on weekends.

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When one thinks Castro they think San Francisco. Only the Haight and Chinatown share this distinction of international acclaim. It’s most notable, of course, as one of world’s few remaining safe spaces for LGBTQ people. And new 2017 additions to the Rainbow Honor Walk kept the neighborhood in line with its theme.

But even before the Castro adopted a queer identity (prior to the 1970s it was a working-class Irish-American neighborhood), it was a still gorgeous slice of the city, highlighted by Victorians galore and the Timothy Pflueger-designed Castro Theatre.

In 2017, rent and home prices remained as absurd as ever, making it increasingly difficult for young people to call this safe mecca home. However, a bumper crop of new residential buildings (physically too short to make a major dent in the housing crisis) provided a pinprick of relief.

The year’s biggest brouhaha had to be the selection of a new Harvey Milk Plaza, a design that had some locals reeling and the plaza’s original architect fuming.

This year, former District Eight Supe. Scott Wiener left office after winning the state senate vote, with Jeff Sheehy entering his seat as a mayoral appointee. In 2018, Sheehy goes head to head with Rafael Mandelman in November.

Now the decision is in your hands: Which area should advance to the Final Four? Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win.