Sep 18

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HGTV Show Calls the Portola “Up and Coming”…then we get dissed.

HGTV Show Calls the Portola District"Up and Coming"

HGTV Show Calls the Portola District “Up and Coming”

Well it was bound to happen, we have traveled under the radar for far too long. The best neighborhood that nobody has ever heard of is officially a one time reality TV star on basic cable!  If you didn’t catch it, Portola was recently featured on HGTV’s new show A Sale of Two Cities where the ‘hood was called “up and coming” by the show’s real-estate agent.  Depending on your perspective this might be time to pop the champagne and sit tight until a new locally produced stroller store opens on San Bruno OR it’s time to let your paint peel and spread car parts across your sidewalk to ward off the impending gentrification.

HGTV on location at Burrows Pocket Park

HGTV on location at Burrows Pocket Park

A Sale of Two Cities is another reality show that features two buyers in two different cities shopping for a home with a budget of $650,000.  In this episode it was our “Bohemian” city vs. Charleston – spoiler alert – you get a lot more for your money in Charleston.  The San Francisco couple featured in this episode are described as “Techies” who enjoy game nights and getting married at Burning Man.  They are looking to buy a two bedroom house in the Mission for $650,000 – and they clearly have a great sense of humor too!  After their Realtor slaps them on the face with a little S.F. real-estate reality, she coerces the couple to take the exhausting journey two exits south on 101 to some unheard of place called “The Portola District”.  In what I’m assuming was an attempt to justify the couple’s whining about this far off land, they inaccurately describe the Portola as being 12 miles from downtown and use a distorted perspective of a map to back it up.

Glamour shots of Girard St.

Glamour shots of Girard St.

The Realtor seems to get the coolness of the Portola and gives a nice and somewhat accurate description about how authentic we are with all our local businesses and amenities.  So maybe the shots of BART or the mention of a major grocery were a little misleading but who really needs all that stuff anyway, we are blue collar realness! Things go a bit down hill from here when the couple arrives wind blown and rattled from their trip over the Berlin Wall of 280.  We get the somewhat familiar comment that we are too far out and then totally slapped in the face with: “I know this is technically San Francisco but this doesn’t feel like San Francisco” – she has no idea what real San Francisco feels like.    The show goes on with some more nonsense and the couple ends up picking a T.I.C. in the Mission, oh sorry, spoiler alert!

The charming blue Victorian on Silliman representing the Portola on HGTV.

The charming blue Victorian on Silliman St. representing the Portola on HGTV.

In the end we faired a bit better than Bernal which was recently (and absurdly) called “a crappy neighborhood” by Bravo’s cringe inducing show Million Dollar Listing San Francisco.  We spoke to Todd Lappin at the world famous Bernalwood blog about his reaction to all this reality TV showing dissing going around District 9:

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that there’s not much reality in reality television. Shows like this are created as entertainment, so being entertaining is more important to them than being accurate.  Beyond that, it’s probably best not to worry too much about what anyone in the media has to say about your neighborhood. Low-key authenticity is what makes The Portola such a cool place to live, and everyone in the know already understands that. For the most part, media exposure is only likely to screw things up. I’ve long said that smart wannabe homeowners aren’t complaining about prices in Bernal or the Mission; the smart ones are buying in Portola.

Todd gets it, they aren’t interested in our authenticity, we aren’t all Mission style hipness with Edison light bulbs and reclaimed wood – I’ll just pretend FourBarrel doesn’t have any of that or that I don’t actually like a little bit of that stuff within reason – we are real San Francisco; diverse, a bit weird and a little rough around the edges.  Besides, change is already happening in the Portola, home values are soaring and investment seems to be happening on all levels.  Our status with the Mission Tech-sters can remain as too far out and “not San Francisco enough”- their version of San Francisco that is – while we hold onto our little corner of urban calmness.  For now at least, we will continue to fly under the radar with our giant park, expansive views and sunny weather.

San Bruno Ave. making it's reality show debut!

San Bruno Ave. making it’s reality TV show debut!

Watch the full episode below and fast forward to 25:00 minutes for all the good Portola stuff.


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2015/09/hgtv-show-calls-the-portola-up-and-coming-then-we-get-dissed/


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  1. Jennif

    Hey, that’s my old house!
    Spoiler alert: this couple didn’t buy it.

  2. Elisa

    Alex, you crack me up! Keep this stuff coming–this is great!

  3. Phillip

    SO funny! You have a bright future in writing snarky articles!

  4. Tex

    I saw that episode and the couple turned me off. They made the what, 12 minute drive, seem like they had just scaled the Great Wall of China. The place they chose in the Mission was characterless, especially compared to the gem they were shown in Portola. They are the type of people who are blind to San Francisco’s soul, who do not know the real SF, whose values are misconstrued and who I suspect will never get it. The charm and authenticity of Portola would be lost on them. So they chose wisely.

  5. Paul

    Unfortunately, this wasn’t The Portola District’s debut on reality TV. A few years ago I saw a show about health inspectors raiding and closing massage parlors where immigrant sex slaves were being held and forced into prostitution. Part of the show was filmed on San Bruno Ave. across from the Imperial Garden.
    I felt a confusing mix of pride and shame: “Hey, look, that’s our neighborhood!” then “Oh my God, that’s our neighborhood…”

    I think the show was MSNBC Undercover: Sex Slaves in America.

  6. [email protected]

    I am techie and very proud to live in Beautiful Portola. I work on Van Ness and Market and it only takes me 15 min max to get to work.

  7. Jack T

    Great work Alex!!! Keep it up… Love reading about the ins and outs of the Portola. HGTV has no idea. Bring on the Portola Planet

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