SoMa has an average violent crime rate and an average property crime rate for San Francisco.
SoMa stands for “South of Market” and encompasses the large swath of area…wait for it…south of Market Street, running from the 101 freeway on the south all the way to the Bay on the east. It is a sprawling neighborhood with three distinct sections.
“SoMa” refers most specifically to the section closest to the Mission, with the most restaurants and nightlife; “Yerba Buena” is in the middle, and is known for its density of museums and shopping; and "South Beach" is on the side next to the Bay (although there’s no beach to speak of) and is full of high-rises and not too much else. South Beach is quickly becoming its own neighborhood, but for now it falls under the general SoMa umbrella.
This area was once zoned primarily for commercial use and that history is still present in the lofts and apartments fashioned from converted warehouses and office space. On smaller side streets you’ll occasionally find a Victorian or a modern condominium. Brick walk-ups are common, as are high-rises; these tend to be more common the further west you go.
Large office buildings dotted between residential housing can block the sun and keep the weather cooler here as a result. This neighborhood is increasingly attractive to fledgling startups in coworking spaces and the people who work for them. It’s less attractive for families, especially those with young children.
When SoMa was a commercial zone it had a reputation for seediness. Today it has been cleaned up pretty well, but the long blocks, nearby elevated highways which attract homeless encampments, and overall industrial vibe cause it to get a little uncertain at night.
Highway 80 runs through the south edge of SoMa, and the neighborhood quiets down, at least in terms of commercial businesses, the further south you go. The border of the Mission (near the 101) has a lot of nightlife and music venues (such as DNA Lounge and Hotel Utah), bringing in a young, artsy, punkier crowd. Folsom Street used to be dominated by the gay community, but the only hints that remain of that time are a couple of leather shops and bars catering to the gay/bisexual crowd.
The north of SoMa along Market Street provides the best public transportation with the trifecta of San Francisco (BART, busses, and light rail), and also where a lot of nightlife, shopping, and convenience stores can be found. A few buses run along the rest, but the sheer size of this neighborhood can make transportation less convenient if you’re not near a bus route.
Yerba Buena is the name of the northern middle section of SoMa. It is a hub of museums and brand-name shopping, and includes Westfield Mall, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which includes a large outdoor garden area, a bowling alley, and an indoor ice skating rink.
The South Beach area consists mainly of high-rise apartment buildings and condos, many with waterfront views, and the enormous AT&T baseball park, where most of the bars and restaurants in this area can be found.
There are still vast empty lots and the area can feel a bit deserted, although the exponential growth of tech companies moving into the area ensures it will fill out soon. For now it’s got a stiff urban edge, bridge traffic, and noise until you get to your nice apartment. The expansive apartment complex, Bayview Village, can be found in South Beach and has many of the amenities of an actual village in or near it (just don’t get confused with the Bayview neighborhood). The Rincon Hill area in particular is very built up, and is part of the iconic San Francisco skyline as seen from the east.
While San Francisco’s newly renovated Museum of Modern Art is incredible, the Museum of the African Diaspora is an often tragically overlooked gem. It aims to connect all people through the culture, history, and art of the African migration across the world.