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Heritage in the Neighborhoods

San Francisco Heritage

As San Francisco’s leading preservation organization, Heritage is looked to whenever the city’s historic buildings, public artwork, or legacy businesses are threatened. Increasingly, those threats are arising in the city’s outlying neighborhoods. From the Marina to the Bayview, Potrero Hill to the Outer Sunset, significant single-family homes, legacy businesses, and cultural cornerstones are being lost.

Older houses are victims of intense development pressures. When replaced by new market-rate units, their loss exacerbates the city’s affordability crisis. Neighborhood cafes, retail stores, and restaurants are closing because of rent increases from out-of-town landlords and decreased profits from the rise of online delivery companies. Each loss creates a vacant storefront and one less community meeting space.

Heritage has always weighed in on large and high-profile projects and worked on a citywide level to craft legislative protections such as historic districts and the popular Legacy Business Registry. But with limited resources, Heritage on its own cannot identify and protect all of the small but significant buildings, artwork, and businesses in all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods.

In response to this great need, in 2020 Heritage launched an original and innovative program to amplify the power of local communities to preserve what’s special in vulnerable neighborhoods, while building awareness for preservation across San Francisco.

The Heritage in the Neighborhoods program is helping foster new local affinity groups to celebrate and defend the unique characteristics of several San Francisco neighborhoods: Excelsior, Parkside, Marina, and Visitacion Valley districts. Month-long spotlights by Heritage staff on local architectural styles, legacy businesses, and cultural cornerstones were followed by conversation and shared strategies for defending historic resources. See our dedicated website pages to see what we covered in 2020-2021, including short videos and posts, and existing research on neighborhood history and architecture, longtime cultural and commercial cornerstones, and available preservation resources.

In August 2022 we are going to the Haight-Ashbury, located near the Panhandle and eastern edge of Golden Gate Park.

In October 2021 we went to Visitacion Valley, located in southeastern San Francisco.

In October 2020, we spotlighted the Marina District, located at San Francisco’s northern border.

In July 2020, we spotlighted the Parkside neighborhood, one of San Francisco’s western neighborhoods.

Our very first neighborhood spotlight was the Excelsior District, in southeastern San Francisco.

Follow-up activities are being tailored to work with each neighborhood’s strengths and needs, but Heritage is helping convene affinity group meetings with agenda items including landmark nominations, legacy-business registrations, educational walking tours, and potential context statement, survey, or historic district work. More people signing on to a group will show strength as we work toward these local initiatives, and will provide a welcoming space for an array of voices to contribute and brainstorm ideas. As we grow neighborhood by neighborhood, Heritage in the Neighborhoods affinity groups will extend preservation work and capacity to defend historic resources to every corner of the city.

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