San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods and many of these have formed their own associations –– political building blocks in the larger structure of municipal government. Neighborhood associations mostly look out for quality-of-life interests, such as zoning, development and traffic control issues. Some groups might also attempt to set limitations or offer “guidelines” on what a resident may or may not do with his/her property, such as installing a chain-link fence in the front yard or painting the garage fuchsia, but the City does not recognize these kinds of restrictions as legally binding, unless they are also found in the municipal code.
Besides functioning as a political vehicle, your neighborhood association can also offer a venue for socializing. Join in the next meeting, get to know your neighbors and learn about issues concerning your corner of the City. You’ll find an opportunity to voice your opinion and help shape the direction of your community. Given the average cost of a home in San Francisco, it’s likely you’ve made a significant investment in living here. Isn’t it only sensible to become more politically involved? Depending on the area, you might also stumble upon a holiday potluck dinner, perhaps even a poetry reading or yoga class (after all, this is San Francisco).
One step beyond your local association is the Coalition of San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN). A conglomerate of local groups, CSFN uses strength in numbers to play a bigger role in municipal policy making. Visit CSFN online to find the local association for your own community, or call them at (415) 262-0440.