SF: Safety in Your ‘Hood

crimescene.jpgA comment on my last post on 6th Street got me thinking: how much does safety come in to your plans for home ownership? Are you more interested in a safe ‘hood than a swanky kitchen? You might have to decide: a lot of the new loft type condos are going up in the SOMA area, which can be pretty damn terrifying at night (or in full daylight). So you might get that brand new kitchen, but you’ll have to order everything delivered anyway because you don’t feel safe walking outside.

The SOMA is not, let me clarify, entirely unsafe. And most realtors will tell you “it’s up and coming,” and that “it’s not as bad as it looks,” phrases that are to some extent true. But certainly, the Tenderloin is one of the highest crime areas in the city, along with Western Addition, the Mission, and Bayview/Hunter’s Point (according to 2007 crime statistics). Myself, I was robbed of my purse at a club called Roe on Howard at 2nd Street just last weekend, so I add my experience to the stats for 2008. For a more accurate read on what goes on, and where, you have several resources at your fingertips. For instance:

Metroblogging offers the SF Murder Map, both for 2007 and 2008. If you’ve followed the news, you know homicide rates in the city and uncomfortably high, and you can keep track of who died, where, and how. Morbid, but important.

Fortuantely, we have many more property crimes than violent ones ( approximately a ratio of 6:1) , as you can tell from this graph at CityRatings.com. You can also read, in detail, about virtually any crime that has made it to the police blotter, on the regularly updated (and chilling) sfcrime blogspot.

If you’re interested in exactly where the most crime takes place, or if you want to check a specific district or neighborhood’s stats, you can do that too. As long as the crime was reported to the police, SFPD keeps track, by location. Go to SF Crime Maps, a police run site that, to quote,

 has been created to allow people with an interest in public safety to easily produce maps and reports of incidents from data contained in SFPD police reports.  Now members of community groups and neighborhood watches can get public safety information whenever they like – as often as they like.

And indeed, you can type in a specific address, or a city block, or search around a landmark. Any of these searches will yield a location-specific record of all crimes reported in that area.

So when your realtor tells you that house you’re looking at is in a neighborhood that “is not that bad,” find out for yourself just how bad it is, and decide, intelligently, whether you feel comfortable living there. Surely that security matters as much as chrome and Corian in the kitchen.