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Magical 2-Story Gingerbread House Open at Fairmont Hotel

You really know when the winter holiday season is upon us when TV commercials are hocking stuff at is throughout the night, Christmas decorations go up along SF streets and the Gingerbread House at the Fairmont Hotel opens to the public.

So, as of now in 2017, the Fairmont Hotel’s famed, magic-strewn Gingerbread House is now receiving adults and children as houseguests. The hotel has been doing this for over a hundred years.

The house is 22 feet tall, making it a stunning two stories—bigger than some houses in SF. Walk into the middle of this splendorous, odorous abode and you’ll encounter a tiny kitchen awash with cookies ready to pop in an oven, a giant-size nutcracker, and a wonderful choo-choo train going round and round a snowed-in village.

Plus, the entire house is a baked wunderkind, as you can eat it as you tour it, but don’t do that because you’ll probably be put on Santa’s naughty list—it is frowned upon. However the hotel’s baking elves put together over 7,500 gingerbread bricks, hundreds of pounds of candy and over 2,000 pounds of icing to craft the house. The smell is divine and fills the entire lobby and wafts out the hotel main doors.

The house is open for free until January 1st, and you can also reserve holiday tea times at the hotel.

Tardy Book Borrowers Beware, SF Library Hiring Bill Collector

The folks at the San Francisco Public Library are getting serious when it comes to fines for books borrowed way beyond their due date. They’ve hired an outside gun, a bill collector for hire to track down and bring in borrowers who owe $100 or more in fines. And, guess what: there are 13,000 people crowding on that wanted poster.

No wonder a bill collector’s been brought into the fort. The San Francisco Examiner noted, “In the first-ever partnership, the library is paying the Office of Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Bureau of Delinquent Revenue $72,714 to collect on debts — some of which are 25 years old — in what’s being called the Collections Initiative Pilot.”

Library administrators explained that while the rather large amount of $100+ is owed by only 2 percent of the overdue book borrowers, these people make up over half of the overall total of fines owed.

The SFPL, in keeping with its municipal and helpful nature, offered an amnesty period earlier in 2017 so late borrowers could bring in books and get some love. But now the institution is ready to track down the perps and the money owed. They did say the process will not impact the patrons’ credit score.

San Francisco Demographics – Who We Are; Where We Come From; What We Believe; How We Live; What We Do

There is no city on the planet quite like ours, and here are some of the details. Compiled by Paragon Real Estate for your entertainment and, perhaps, mild edification.

Ancestry, Age, Religion, Education, Employment,
Language & Politics

A Miscellaneous Selection of Diverse Statistics

Selected Statistics by San Francisco Zip Code:
Income, Education, Foreign Birth & Homeownership

All our reports and analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

San Francisco Real Estate Market Report
Bay Area County Markets & Demographics
SF Neighborhood Home Price Tables
SF Luxury House Market Update
SF Luxury Condo Market Update
Bay Area Apartment Building Market Report

All data herein is from a wide variety of third party sources deemed reliable – much of it from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, 2011-2015 – but it may contain errors, and is subject to revision. All data should be considered approximate or good-faith estimates.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

Best and Coolest Ice Skating in SF and Around the Bay

Normally, we don’t put ice skating into the same sentence as San Francisco, but this is the season to dust off your ice skates (or rent them) and join the crowds of holiday cheer-makers gracefully (or not) gliding out on the rinks right here in our city, or around the Bay Area.

Yes, ice skating is a San Francisco tradition, right up there with cable cars, and our friends at sf.curbed.com have staked out an interactive map of the coolest ranks to make your edge marks on the ice. The icy cartography includes 10 rinks from San Jose up to Santa Rosa, and has pictures and blurbs to get you in the double Axel mood.

Here in the city, be sure to set your skating sights for the Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center. This rink is touted as the largest outdoor rink in the Bay Area and is open till January 7, with tickets running $7 – $12 general, and skate rental is $5.

Then, there is the classic Holiday Ice Rink at Union Square where you can skate and then eat and then shop around one of the city’s most enjoyable squares. Open 10am to 11:30pm every day, with a cost of $18 for adults and $13 for kids under 9 and the skates are thrown into the bargain.

Click here for the interactive map of Bay Area ice skating rinks.

Better Things to Do in San Francisco on Black Friday

Yes, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving (which is an ennobling giving of thanks,) is somewhat of a lack of light as it’s purpose is to shop for wheelbarrows of stuff at great prices. But, hopefully, this more stuff are gifts given with a beautiful spirit of holiday cheer and generosity. However, not everybody is out there grimacing in long lines to stores and fighting off enemies at the cash-register gates. Some of us like to do other stuff.

For us San Franciscans who like to spend Black Friday by anti-shopping, sf.curbed.com has put together an interactive map page of free pastimes on BF that should lift your heart, spirit and Thanksgiving-stuffed body. The first stop on the map are the Filbert Street Stairs in Telegraph Hill. If you haven’t done these, then prepare for a calorie-burning workout, plus some famed parrots to look out for, the Grace Marchant Gardens and a wooden plank sidewalk along Napier Lane that is lined with charming pre-1900 cottage type homes.

If you want to see how the bespoke 1% live, sfcurbed.com recommends heading over to Billionaire’s Row at Pacific Heights. Here you’ll walk and marvel at multi million dollar homes that are setting records in the real estate world for prices in SF, and stand out for architectural aplomb and novel-like history. There’s also another set of steps over here to explore: Lyons Street Steps.

Click here for the complete list of free Black Friday alternative events.

Best Turkey Dining-Out Spots in San Francisco

One week to Thanksgiving Day 2017 in the city by the bay, and if you’re finding your kitchen just too small for feast-making or don’t feel like all that feast-making, then be thankful there are so many fine restaurants offering so many different interpretations on the turkey celebration meal.

To help us navigate all the possibilities, sf.eater.com has put together an interactive SF city map of 15 eateries they feel are offering this year’s supreme turkey dining. This map is a culinary range so don’t expect all these restaurants to carry the roasted bird, stuffing and ultra rich gravy. Some, for example, are going to serve you sushi, but it will be Michelin-starred sushi.

Make reservations now, of course.

Here’s a peak at the gobble gobble offerings:

  • 1300 on Fillmore: 3 seatings for the day, each with a 3-course feast that includes buttermilk fried quail, butternut squash risotto, not too mention the perfect oven-roasted turkey.
  • Balboa Café: Menu includes kobacha squash soup, pumpkin risotto, New York Steak, and turkey dressed with Autumn herb stuffing.
  • Brenda’s French Soul Food: a Tenderloin morning-to-lunch spot serving up deep fried turkey and pumpkin pie pancakes with gingersnap streusel. Umm.

Go to the turkey-dining-out map here.

2017 SF Holiday Events Calendar

There are many great things to enjoy in our wonderful Bay Area now through January. Take a look at some of the events that will “Add a little sparkle to your holidays” in our events guide this winter season.

Even a Fire-Gutted SF House is On the Market for Big $

San Francisco is the town of quirky, sometimes bizarre, real estate. We have a luxury condo tower that is sinking into the ground and leaning over 15 inches to the northwest (Millennium Tower), and monthly renting of a Fedex Truck (no plumbing for $600) and a backyard tent (for $400). And many other examples of surreal real estate.

Now, take the case of the burnt-out shell of a house on 121 Gates Street that burned in a 2-alarm fire in 2016 in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. It was gutted but still standing—a 600-square foot one-bed, one-bath house built in 1907, the year after the great SF Earthquake.

Now, the Bernal Heights charred walls-and-frame of a house is on the market for $800,000 (and will require extensive tearing down and rebuilding). That is almost the median price for a home in the entire Bay Area, while the median price for a house in California is $555,400. The ad now lists as a sale pending.

It’s expected that this house will go well over asking. A precedent for this kind of action is an “extensively damaged, uninhabitable” house in Sunset listed in early 2016 for $600,000 and ended up selling for $950,000.

Big Thanksgiving Question: What’s Open On That Day?

I don’t know about you, but there are some Thanksgivings when I need to go shopping either in SF or nearby locales. Sometimes it’s for something I forgot for the turkey dinner. Other times, it’s to get in on some too-good-to-miss sales. And then, right after Thanksgiving, there’s Black Friday.

But as we all know most stores are closed on Thanksgiving. So. What’s open on this traditional day of gratitude and community sharing?

Here’s a helpful list:

  • There will be a few shops open on Union Square, if you want to check the square out. About 75% of the shops will be open at Pier 39.
  • Target is planning on opening its doors at 6pm on Thanksgiving and stay open till midnight. Six hours later, the store will open for Black Friday at 6am.
  • Macy’s will be open 5pm to 10pm on Thanksgiving Day, and on Black Friday.


Other retailers open on Turkey Day around the Bay Area are:

  • Bass Pro Shops – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m Thanksgiving; 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Black Friday
  • Belk – 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thanksgiving; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Black Friday
  • Five Below – 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thanksgiving; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Black Friday
  • JCPenney – 2 p.m. Thanksgiving through 10 p.m. Black Friday
  • Kmart – 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. Thanksgiving; 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Black Friday
  • Kohl’s – 5 p.m. Thanksgiving through Black Friday. (Store hours may vary by location).
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