Rents increased 3.3% countrywide, climbing 15.4% in San Francisco alone
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — U.S. home rental prices continued to climb at a modest pace in December, but rapidly escalating costs in cities such as San Francisco and Denver suggest that apartment dwellers are facing more financial pressure.
Real estate data firm Zillow says prices increased 3.3 percent in December compared with 12 months earlier. That’s less than the recent appreciation in home values. But a surge in apartment costs in several of the hottest markets suggests that there will be financial challenges for renters who hope to eventually buy homes of their own.
Rents jumped 15.4 percent in the San Francisco area and 10.5 percent in Denver. Tenants elsewhere are catching a break. In Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, rents rose by less than 2.2 percent over the past 12 months.
Take a trip to vintage San Francisco
Today, South of Market, a wedge-shaped neighborhood in northwest San Francisco, is home to tech giants such as Twitter and Airbnb, but for most of its existence it was a very different kind of place.
Once famous for its “factories, slums, laundries, machine shops, boiler works, and the abodes of the working class,” as writer Jack London noted in 1909, it changed dramatically in the 1960s when many businesses that called the district home moved out and a community of artists and gay men and women emerged in its place. In the late 1970s, in the face of then expanding dereliction and as part of efforts to remake the neighborhood, city authorities condemned many of the residential hotels that had become a hallmark of the area, displacing many residents and small businesses.
It was at this time that photographer Janet Delaney moved to the area, seeking cheap rent. Between 1978 and 1986 she captured a neighborhood at the cusp of change. One that was not salubrious — she was held up at knifepoint and had her camera stolen — but one where behind the rough edges, a small but strong community of families and businesses still thrived.
“In my first two years of college I spent a lot of time, like many people in the early 70s, thinking of formal issues, like structure, and how a photograph is constructed,” Delaney says, recalling the kind of aesthetically-driven photography she was making up until she moved to the area. ” [I was] responding to minimalism, and how photography addresses these concepts.”
Later, a six-month solo trip to conflict-riddled parts of Central America left a deep impression on Delaney, and saw her take a socially-conscious turn with her work. Upon returning, the often-tough lives of her neighbors seemed to take on a new significance and she felt the need to document them. Using a large 4×5 view tripod-mounted camera, she made portraits and architectural views and shot the interiors of local businesses, in an attempt to document life in the neighborhood.
The images that emerged are as frank as they are beautiful and are a testament to a once gritty, even vibrant neighborhood. Indeed, they bear an uncanny resemblance to pre-war documentary photography. It is perhaps all down to the camera, Delaney says: a bulky contraption that takes up a large amount of space but yields finely detailed images. And for the photographer, the ever obvious camera itself became an important part of the documentation process.
“The camera gave a sense of honor to a neighborhood that nobody ever considered, a neighborhood the city felt it could demolish,” Delaney says.
By 1988, with rents getting ever higher, Delaney, now a mother, moved across the bay to Berkeley. “I wouldn’t have left if that rent hadn’t been so high,” she adds, feeling that she was pushed out of her old neighborhood by rising prices. And that process doesn’t seem to be slowing as the neighborhood, now known as SoMa, continues to gentrify.
“I’ve continued to photograph South of Market,” Delaney says. “There’s more of a bustle, there’s more going on. But it’s really expensive. People are moving into high rises. It’s a more elegant, beautiful, [but] slightly alienating environment.”
Janet Delaney: South of Market runs until July 19, 2015 at the De Young Museum in San Francisco
Myles Little is an Associate Photo Editor for TIME
Longest closure in the bridge's history
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is closing down for the weekend for the bridge’s longest shutdown ever and its first closure in more than 25 years.
The bridge will be closed from midnight Friday until 4 a.m. Monday morning so workers can install a moveable median barrier to prevent head-on collisions, according to a statement on the bridge’s website. Since 1970, there have been 128 head-on collisions that have resulted in 16 deaths, the Associated Press reports.
The bridge closed briefly in 1987 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, but the 52-hour closure this weekend will be the longest in the bridge’s history.
The group of inmates could have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge
Three Alcatraz inmates tried to leave the historically inescapable island prison on a raft fashioned of raincoats more than 50 years ago and were never seen again. Many assumed the group perished in the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean, but a new study shows how they might have survived.
The study, conducted by a group of Dutch researchers, uses an interactive model to show where the 1962 jailbreakers might have landed if they departed at the right time and under the right conditions. In the absolute best-case scenario, the group would have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and escaped into Marin County.
But the group also could have drifted out into the Pacific Ocean or eastward into the San Francisco Bay. In either case, their chances of survival would have practically zero given the cold temperatures on the water.
Who says you have to celebrate at the homestead? This year, start a new tradition in one of these affordable getaways.
Are the usual holiday festivities feeling a little stale? This could be the perfect time to shake up your routine and celebrate the season with a much-deserved getaway. Yes, we know: Traveling at the tail end of the year is pricey. However, if you’re strategic about where and when you go, you might be surprised by just how low you can get that tab. Here you’ll find four festive trips, each with its own unique appeal. Though the destinations range from beach towns to ski meccas, they do have one thing in common: a reasonable price tag. Now that’s a gift.
When to Go: Dec. 31-Jan. 7. San Juan remains relatively affordable throughout the year thanks to its airport, which has the cheapest average fares (per mile) of the 75 busiest hubs in the U.S., according to the Department of Transportation. In a recent search, flying from Chicago early on New Year’s Eve costs a manageable $550. Hotels are also affordable compared with many Caribbean hotspots. On Hotels.com, four-star properties in San Juan start at $206 a night during the first week of 2015, vs. $304 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and $341 in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
What to Do: You can’t go wrong wandering the blue cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. Stop by the massive Castillo San Cristóbal fort ($5) and the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico ($6), one of the Caribbean’s largest museums. On Calle del Cristo browse shops such as El Galpon, which sells authentic Panama hats (prices from $60).
Next, head to Santurce, an up-and-coming area full of hip bars and eateries. “It’s always packed with locals,” says Ryan Ver Berkmoes, author of guidebook Lonely Planet Puerto Rico.
Hit the beach at nearby Ocean Park and Condado. For less than $20, you can rent a chair, buy a couple of cold beers, and feast on empanadas sold by street vendors. For a wilder dose of nature, explore the hiking trails and waterfalls at El Yunque National Forest, an hour outside the city. A guided tour is $60, including transportation from San Juan.
Interested in another good day trip? Try Playa Luquillo, the mile-long crescent of surf and sand about an hour east of San Juan. The beach here has a fun, social atmosphere and is known for its food vendors, says Ver Berkmoes. So grab a tasty fried snack and check out the scene.
How to Celebrate: The city’s biggest New Year’s party, complete with fireworks, happens at the Puerto Rico Convention Center (discounted tickets are $65 on Gustazos.com). For something more low-key, head back to Santurce and its central square, ringed with open-air bars and cafés, to toast 2015 with a $3 piña colada.
Jan. 6 is Día de Los Reyes, or Three Kings Day. Expect parades and festivals with food and live music (but keep in mind that some stores and restaurants will be closed).
Where to Stay: In San Juan, Le Consulat is a great bargain in the Condado luxury district, where it’s surrounded by hotels charging upwards of $300 a night. At $127 for a double, you get free Wi-Fi, a simple, modern room, and an outdoor pool. For a bit of a splurge, Ver Berkmoes recommends spending a couple of nights at the Gallery Inn, where each room is decorated with art and antiques. Doubles start at $220 a night.
When to Go: Dec. 19-26. Why not spend Christmas in the City by the Bay? The weather is temperate, most attractions are open, and hotel prices actually drop, says Chris McGinnis, a travel blogger for the San Francisco Chronicle. For instance, last year, rates at the city’s big convention hotels hit an annual low of $170 or less from Dec. 19 to 25, vs. a full-year average of $241, according to the visitors bureau. Plus, with the usual tourist hordes thinned, museums are less mobbed, and reservations at top restaurants are easy (or at least easier!) to snag. Flights, too, are reasonable this time of year. We found nonstop flights from Chicago starting at $305.
What to Do: Skip touristy Fisherman’s Wharf and check out the futuristic de Young Museum ($10; closed on Dec. 25), which displays 27,000 works from the 17th to 20th centuries. Don’t miss the observation tower. It has stunning views of Golden Gate Park. Nearby, the California Academy of Sciences houses an aquarium, a planetarium, and a living rainforest dome ($35).
The city is “brimming with sublime food,” says Michele Bigley, author of the Fodor’s San Francisco guide. In the buzzing Mission District, Bigley recommends La Taqueria for a behemoth burrito ($7) before catching a movie at the Roxie, one of the oldest theaters in the nation. Cap the night with a cocktail at Trick Dog, where drinks are named for local landmarks ($12).
Visit the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to see the NoCal bounty. “Occasionally you’ll spot famous chef Alice Waters shopping there,” says Anna Roth, food and drink editor of SFWeekly. In the same building, she recommends Hog Island Oyster Co. for seafood stew and, of course, oysters ($18 to $20).
How to Celebrate: Through March, an art project using 25,000 LED lights will illuminate the cables of the Bay Bridge. Check it out from the amazing Top of the Mark bar on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. For a more athletic option, glide over the city’s largest outdoor ice-skating rink, set along the waterfront on the Embarcadero ($14 with skates).
On Christmas Eve, indulge in an old-school meal at the House of Prime Rib, a city institution. “During the holidays it’s all decked out,” says Roth. “You’ll spend $40 or so for an entrée, but at least the martinis are cheap!”
Where to Stay: For a unique property in the heart of things, try the Herbert Hotel. Located just off Union Square, the Herbert has bright, sleek rooms (ask for one with a private bathroom) and hardwood floors. Doubles are $259 a night through Dec. 20 but drop to $155 Dec. 21–25. Prefer something with more of a neighborhood feel? The quaint San Remo Hotel offers rooms with windows from $99, though you will need to share one of several bathrooms.
When to Go: Dec. 15-22. Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula can get pretty busy at the end of the year. According to American Express Travel, Cancún is 2014’s most popular international destination for both Christmas and New Year’s. That appeal has some upsides—every major U.S. airline offers direct flights to Cancún. However, it also means crowds and, according to hotel researchers STR, a December average daily rate of $227.
For holiday travelers, Bacalar is an escape from that tourist frenzy. This small town overlooking Laguna Bacalar, or the “Lagoon of the Seven Colors,” is 3½ hours from Cancún, and 35 minutes from Chetumal. During the holidays, Bacalar hotels average a manageable $123 on Hotels.com. To visit, fly into Cancún and rent a car (about $40 a day) or take the $55 bus. Flights tend to be cheaper earlier in December, says Zachary Rabinor, CEO of tour operator Journey Mexico; we found one for $414.
What to Do: Tour Bacalar’s beautiful old Spanish fortress, Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar ($4, free on Sundays), originally built to protect the town against pirates. Later, hang with the locals at the town’s popular balneario (swimming facility); entry $2. The area is lined by small eateries and has plenty of thatched umbrellas where you can take a break from the Caribbean sun. Or, for just $1.50 an hour, rent a bike from Cocomoco rental shop and pedal along the bay. Obviously, you should be eating as many tacos as possible; the fish and shrimp options at La Playita are not to be missed (from $4).
The town also makes a great base for exploring the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben ($4), a 45-minute drive away. The site, closed to the public until 2002, is home to stone structures dating to the year 800—some still showing signs of their original red paint. Mexico’s biggest cenote (a natural sinkhole), the 300-foot-deep Cenote Azul, is about a mile outside of town—the water is so clear you can see down to the sparkling-white sand floor. Entrance $1, life vests $3.
How to Celebrate: Get in on the holiday spirit by checking out the town’s tree lighting. Then shop for locally made gifts at handicraft shops in the town center or near the entrance to the cenote. Also be sure to sample traditional Mexican Christmas goodies such as ponche (warm tropical-fruit punch stirred with cinnamon sticks), romeritos (sprigs of the romerito plant served with potatoes and mole), and bacalao (salted cod).
Where to Stay: The recently opened Bacalar Lagoon Resort ($115) consists of seven spacious cabanas set on a freshwater lagoon; snorkeling gear is available gratis. Nearby Rancho Encantado is a great value at $125. The rooms have thatched roofs, air-conditioning, and cool tile floors. Guests can get an outdoor massage, kayak on the lagoon, or just kick back in one of the property’s many hammocks.
When to Go: Dec. 25-30. For a ski trip that doesn’t break the bank, Dan Sherman of Ski.com recommends Keystone, the most affordable of Colorado’s Vail Resorts properties. In late December, a single-day advance-purchase lift ticket at Keystone costs $99, compared with $129 at Vail or Beaver Creek. Plus, Keystone is just 90 minutes from Denver, allowing visitors to fly into a large airport with well-priced flights. Trim the cost of your airfare even further by flying on Christmas Day, when flights from Chicago start at $245, vs. $315 on the 24th.
What to Do: Hit the mountain! Keystone offers an impressive mix of terrain, from “long-groomed cruisers” to the “trees and bumps of North Peak,” says Harold C. Jenkins, a travel agent at Corporate Vacations American Express Travel. The resort is also home to Colorado’s biggest night-skiing program, with the slopes open until 8 p.m. during the last week of the year. “Watching the sunset from the top of Dercum Mountain is spectacular,” says Sherman.
Buy your lift tickets at least a week in advance; you’ll save up to 25% off same-day rates. Feeling a little rusty? Ski School lesson prices drop around 20% when you book two days ahead (about $130, though 2014 holiday prices are still being finalized). Kids 12 and under ski free, with none of the holiday blackouts you see at other resorts.
For a break from the slopes, spend an afternoon in Breckenridge, a half-hour away. Grab coffee at local favorite Cuppa Joe and check out the stores and galleries in this former mining town.
How to Celebrate: You’ve been burning calories, so go ahead and splurge on a nice meal. In the village, Ski Tip Lodge offers a four-course prix fixe ($75), with dessert served by the toasty fireplace. Or hop a gondola to Der Fondue Chessel, located at the top of North Peak. You’ll get a full Bavarian meal—including fondue, of course—for $59 a person.
What time and place could be more appropriate for a sleigh ride? The resort offers hourlong rides that wind through Soda Creek Valley and include hot apple cider (adults, $30; kids, $20). Afterward, swing by Keystone Lodge to check out the model village carved out of chocolate.
Where to Stay: Unlike most resorts, Keystone is just a ski area, with no standalone town. While that results in fewer off-mountain activities, it also means most lodging is just minutes from the slopes. A two-bedroom condo at the Gateway Mountain Lodge, a five-minute walk or free shuttle ride from the lifts, starts at $419 per night. (Compare that with a two-bedroom in Vail, which starts at about $900.)
Prefer a standard hotel room? The Inn at Keystone ($235 a night for a double) is also walking distance from the slopes and has a rooftop hot tub with views of Keystone Valley.
No matter where you’re going this season, these four air-travel strategies will save you time, money, and hassle.
Check in the day before. Not only is online check-in your best chance at switching to a better seat (airlines release some prime spots 24 hours in advance), but if the flight is oversold, it reduces your chances of being bumped, says Wendy Perrin, travel advocate for TripAdvisor.com.
Get in the fast lane. Planning to travel a lot in 2015 and beyond? Apply for TSA PreCheck, the program that allows you to go through expedited security lines without removing your shoes, coat, belt, or laptop. Membership costs $85 and lasts for five years.
Load up on apps. Use your airline’s app to get the latest on your flight. MyTSA will update you on security wait times, and GateGuru is great for sussing out airport amenities.
Bookmark flightstats.com. Canceled flight? Use this site to vet your options, says Perrin. Flightstats will show you which airports and planes are delayed so you can look for a route that works for you, rather than blindly accepting whatever the airline rep suggests.
The drivers want higher wages and better shifts
Facebook’s shuttle-bus drivers voted to unionize on Wednesday in an effort to secure higher wages and better shifts.
The drivers voted to join the Teamsters union by a margin of 43 to 28, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Leaders of the union’s Northern California chapter — Teamsters Local 853 — said that the drivers want better pay and changes to the current shift system, which has them working two three-hour shifts in the morning and evening with a six-hour gap in between.
Facebook’s shuttles, operated by a company called Loop Transportation, ferry the tech giant’s employees from San Francisco and other areas to its headquarters in Menlo Park.
Loop issued a statement accepting their drivers’ wishes. “Even though we don’t feel that our drivers’ interests are best served by union representation, our drivers have spoken and we will now begin the negotiation process,” the statement said.
Facebook reportedly declined to comment.
The Coast Guard expressed concern over lack of oversight in the secretive project
Concerns over fire-safety led Google Inc. to halt construction of its “Google barges,” a secretive project that had attracted significant public curiosity.
“These vessels will have over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck and a substantial amount of combustible material on board,” wrote Robert Gauvin, the Coast Guard’s acting chief of commercial vessel compliance, in a March 2013 email to Google’s contractor on the project, Foss Maritime Co. The Wall Street Journal broke the story using documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Google had previously said the barges, located of the Maine coast and in San Francisco Bay, were to be “an interactive space where people can learn about technology.” The West Coast barge was eventually moved out to storage 80 miles away, while the Maine barge was dismantled and scrapped.
The parade from the Financial District to City Hall is expected to draw record crowds
Undaunted by forecasted chilly weather and steady rain, up to a million baseball fans are expected to crowd into downtown San Francisco Friday for a parade to commemorate the Giants’ third World Series win in five years.
The parade, which started at noon, will stretch for a mile and a half from Market and Steuart streets, then up McAllister Street to the steps of City Hall for a celebration including players, politicians and local celebrities.
The National Weather Service says conditions will be “uncomfortable” with steady rainfall and temperatures in the 50s, but organizers don’t expect fans to be deterred.
The Giants emerged victorious over the Kansas City Royals Wednesday after a tense match up that came down to a final pitch in game seven of the series. The fact that the celebration also falls on Halloween—a day for which orange and black-clad Giants fans will come already dressed appropriately—is expected to draw even more partiers to a wild street celebration.
Bay area transit operators expect Friday to be the busiest day ever on Bay Area trains.
The event brought together Clinton and Obama supporters from 2008
Three generations of Birmingham family women turned out on Monday to see House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rally for female Democratic candidates.
“It was fabulous, a wonderful event,” gushes Alanna Birmingham, 17, clutching one of the lunch’s floral centerpieces, a keepsake for her to take home. “You could just feel the energy in the room, all this beautiful female energy.” Birmingham was there with her mother and grandmother in a show of political unity the family hasn’t always enjoyed, especially when it comes to Hillary Clinton—and they weren’t the only ones.
Billed as “The Ultimate Women’s Power Luncheon,” the event raised $1.4 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from the 820 mostly women in attendance bringing the DCCC’s money lead of its GOP counterpart to a whopping $38 million with just two weeks to go before the election. The event also featured a set by singer Carole King (including a rendition of “Sweet Seasons” where she changed the lyrics to “Some times you win; sometimes you win” instead of lose).
But the 2014 midterms, where Dems are expected to lose seats in both chambers and possibly control of the Senate, were not the elections on most women’s lips at the lunch. Cynthia Birmingham, Alanna’s mother, was there to show early support for Clinton’s anticipated 2016 presidential bid, in part to make up for not supporting her primary candidacy in 2008. “I’m so excited to support Hillary in 2016,” she says.
Birmingham wasn’t the only one. California Reps. Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, George Miller and Barbara Lee—all close allies of Pelosi—were all in enthusiastic attendance on Monday and all endorsed Obama during the primaries in 2008. Indeed, many saw then Speaker Pelosi’s call in 2008 on super delegates to respect the will of the voters in their home states, rather than endorsing the candidate of their choice, as one of the nails in the coffin of Clinton’s candidacy. Though Pelosi very carefully never endorsed either candidate in 2008.
The event was a healing one for the Birminghams as well. Ann Birmingham, Alanna’s grandmother and Cynthia’s mother-in-law, was also in approving attendance, happy to see her women kin supporting the candidate she’s long adored. “I loved and supported Hillary back in 2008 and I will love and support her in 2016,” Ann says. “I was terribly disappointed when she lost.”
But all that was forgotten on Monday with Clinton and Pelosi hugging and kissing onstage and united in their common cause to not only elect more women to Congress, where women make up less than 20%, but to start a women’s empowerment movement in politics. “When women succeed, America succeeds,” both women—and the crowd—chanted over and over throughout the program.
“For too many women, for too many families they don’t just face ceilings for their dreams,” Clinton said, referring to the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, or the 18 million Americans who voted to make her the first female Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, she famously referenced in her concession speech, “they feel floor has collapsed beneath their feet.”
Clinton lavished praise on Pelosi’s ground-breaking leadership as the first female speaker, a post she held from 2006 until Democrats lost the House in 2010. And Pelosi started her speech saying she hoped she would soon be surpassed. “I’m frequently introduced as the highest ranking woman in U.S. office; I’d like to give up that title. And soon,” she told a roaring crowd. “If Hillary Clinton, mother and grandmother, decides to run for president she will win… and she will be one of the best prepared leaders, one of the top presidents in the Oval Office. That she happens to be a woman is a bonus and a wonderful, wonderful thing. But she happens to also be a leader of visions and values.”
Indeed, Cynthia Birmingham says she’s supporting Clinton this time around because she’s an experienced, proven leader at a time when the country most needs that experience. “No one else in the field even comes close,” she says, “Hillary just blows them all away. It’s not so much that she’s a woman, but that she’s the best person for the job.”