Bear with us while we get a little existential here.
Does the Lower Haight exist?
No, really. Did we just imagine it? Have we written 183 blog posts about a fictitious place? Should Lower Haters start thinking of a new name?
At least according to the San Francisco Association of Realtors. Tonight, they’ll officially start using a new map that makes no mention of the Lower Haight. Sorry folks — looks like we all now live in Hayes Valley.
The map, which has been in the works for five years (!!!), updates the boundaries used to define neighborhoods in San Francisco. When the map goes into effect tonight, all properties in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) will automatically be reclassified according to the these new boundaries.
The revisions to the map were supposedly meant to reflect real changes in the city’s neighborhood make-up. Last year, when the map’s changes were still being worked out, the Chronicle quoted the project’s leader as saying, “We worked for four years on this, and we didn’t allow changes like ‘TenderNob’ for the Tenderloin just to change home values – the changes had to reflect a true change and feel of the fabric of a neighborhood.”
But as Mission Local recently noted, the realtors have been less than truthy about some of the neighborhood definitions. Parts of the Mission, for example, will now be classified as Noe Valley, in a bid to boost their homes’ perceived values. Quoth a realtor: “Now some of us think the Mission is cooler, but we’d all admit Noe is more expensive.” Subtle!
OK, we get it. “Hayes Valley” means boutique shopping and babies in designer onesies, while “Lower Haight” means well… something unsavory, apparently. Fine, do what you gotta do, realtors. But let’s not claim to be representing “a true change and feel of the fabric of a neighborhood,” mmmkay?
(Sure, maybe this map never recognized the Lower Haight as an actual neighborhood — but you’d think during a 5-year review process they would have, you know, reviewed it?)
Look, we here at Haighteration know all too well the perils of trying to define San Francisco neighborhoods. If we cover anything even slightly west of Divisadero, we hear grumblings from Upper Haighters accusing us of encroaching on their turf. Recent discussions of microhoods like SOPA and Mint Slope got folks so riled up, you’d think we were talking about Muni. And what’s the northeastern boundary of the Lower Haight? Oak and Buchanan? Fell and Webster? Everybody has an opinion.
But here’s what we know, for a fact:
The Lower Haight exists. Its boundaries may be open to interpretation; its existence is not.
We’re singling out the realtor map because it goes into effect tonight, but really it’s just one of many offenders that ditch the Lower Haight as a legitimate ‘hood.
Ever try to make a reservation on OpenTable? Sorry sucka, your nearest options are “Haight” or “Hayes Valley.”
As Friday night’s Art Walk demonstrated, the Lower Haight is a real community with its own funktastic identity. With all due respect to adjacent neighborhoods, the Lower Haight is not the Upper Haight, and it’s not Western Addition, and it’s definitely not Hayes Valley. Heck, the name is Hayes VALLEY. Anyone who has ever run Bay to Breakers knows that once you start that monster climb west of Laguna, you officially leave the Valley behind.
So where does this leave us? Crying in our Toronado microbrews? Hardly. We don’t need a realtor map or a website to tell us that the Lower Haight is the real deal. We just feel bad for all those homebuyers who don’t tick the “Hayes Valley” box when they search for properties, because they won’t have any idea what they’re missing.
< stepping down from soapbox now, thanks. >