South San Francisco, CA Economic Overview
Commonly referred to as South City, South San Francisco is a city located in San Mateo County, on the San Francisco Peninsula in the South Bay Area. Despite its name, South San Francisco does not actually border San Francisco, with Brisbane separating the two. The City occupies the basin and portions of the sides of a broad valley formed by the San Bruno Mountains on the north and the Coast Range on the west. Most of the valley faces adjacent San Francisco Bay, providing sweeping vistas from higher levels and a definite sense of identification with the Bay. The South City offers its 66,217 residents a serene location in which to live comfortably and a place of recreation in parks, swimming pools, and marina. Employees enjoy a pleasurable place to work with more than 2,800 firms and businesses including many biotech companies such as Genetech which gives the city the title of “Birthplace of Biotechnology." The South City’s thriving biotech industry has placed the South San Francisco commercial real estate within a dynamic and innovative atmosphere occupied by a talented workforce, Silicon Valley venture capital firms, and proximity to Stanford and UC-Berkley research spaces.
Much of South San Francisco’s original land use was dedicated to agricultural production and was originally known as Baden. Small pockets of farmland still exist near San Bruno Mountain, but these areas are disappearing quickly due to City policies yielding to developers’ demands. Households in South San Francisco maintain a high median income of approximately $81,000, one of the highest in the California area. South San Francisco’s office parks and industrial zoning have been favorable to meet needs of industry, which has been quickly evolving, particularly in the sector of biotechnology. The South City is home to some of the world’s largest biotech firms, Genetech, as well as a satellite office of Amgen. Other biotech companies have started or moved to South San Francisco, including Exellxis, due to the proximity to University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Stanford University, and UC-Berkley, all within an hour’s drive. The City’s largest employers include Genetech, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Costco Wholesalers, and Amgen.
South San Francisco, CA Commercial Real Estate Market
Known for its technological start-ups and place of dreams and ideas for young entrepreneurs, areas close to Silicon Valley are the place to be in terms of business and technology. For this very reason, many people look to the area for office rental space. While many will head to the middle of the scene, Palo Alto, many others will pursue space just outside the valley. Three decades ago, industry leader Genetech began operations in South San Francisco with 2,000 square feet and four employees. Today, South San Francisco has nearly 15 R&D campuses and over 8.5 million square feet of laboratory, office and manufacturing space already in operation. Key South San Francisco office submarkets include the Downtown area, Gateway, Lindenville, and East of 101.
Downtown South San Francisco is a relatively small downtown area occupied mostly by wholesale trade companies and is limited in its current office inventory. The Downtown South San Francisco office market has undergone a recent increase in rates, but is still relatively less expensive than the rest of the Silicon Valley market. Positioned at Grand Avenue, extending from Chestnut to Airport, the downtown core in South San Francisco is marked by various small shops, restaurants, City Hall, and a public library, with most stores located directly along Grand Avenue.
Gateway is an office submarket with exceptionally higher rates than the rest of Silicon Valley, with most of the South San Francisco Gateway office spaces concentrated in the public administration industry.
Lindenville is a smaller office submarket largely dominated by firms in the healthcare industry.
East of 101 includes the areas east of Highway 101 and is largely dominated by industrial complexes interspersed with modern office parks of firms in the healthcare industry. The South San Francisco East of 101 office submarket is located near the Oyster Point Marina on San Francisco Bay.
South San Francisco, CA Office Rental Rates ($/SF/year)
Data provided by Yardi Matrix, for properties larger than 50K SF.
South San Francisco, CA Office Sales
Data provided by Yardi Matrix, for properties larger than 50K SF, which sold at over $5M.
South San Francisco, CA Commercial Inventory Breakdown
Total: 15,460,046 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 2,044,768 SF / 13.23% of total office
- 100k to 500k SF: 9,644,398 SF / 62.38% of total office
- 500k to 1M SF: 1,138,570 SF / 7.36% of total office
- > 1M SF: 2,632,310 SF / 17.03% of total office
- Class A: 9,596,138 SF / 62.07% of total office
- Class B: 4,100,065 SF / 26.52% of total office
Total: 2,970,621 SF
By square footage range:
- 100k to 500k SF: 2,411,016 SF / 81.16% of total industrial
- 500k to 1M SF: 559,605 SF / 18.84% of total industrial
Employment in South San Francisco, CA
Employment in South San Francisco has been growing at an average rate of 2% per year since 2014. The most common job groups by number of people living in the area are Management, Business, Science, & Arts, Sales & Office, and Services. The South City has averaged an exceptionally low unemployment rate of 2.6% in 2017.
- Professional and business services - currently employs 269,000, growing at a yearly rate of 0.4%;
- Trade, Transportation, and Utilities - currently employs 156,000, growing at a yearly rate of 2.8%;
- Leisure and Hospitality - currently employs 146,600, growing at a yearly rate of 3.9%.
Education in South San Francisco, CA
South San Francisco is part of the South San Francisco Unified School District, which also serves portions of the neighboring cities of Daly City and San Bruno. The city is home to two public high schools: El Camino High School and South San Francisco High School, which share a cross-town rivalry. The city is served by the South San Francisco Public Library which is part of the Peninsula Library System.
In 2015, the higher education institution with the largest number of graduating students in South San Francisco was NCP College of Nursing-South San Francisco with 80 graduates. Most students in South San Francisco, CA are graduating from Private for-profit, less-than 2-year institutions.
Commuting Time in South San Francisco, CA
South San Francisco is a leader in transportation options, with ample highways, railways, ocean cargo links and not one, but three international airports. South San Francisco is adjacent to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). A BART station, located directly adjacent to El Camino High School and Solaire Transit Village, provides rapid transit service to SFO, the city of San Francisco, and the East Bay. BART supplements the older Caltrain service to San Francisco and San Jose. Caltrain's station is adjacent to downtown on Grand Avenue.
The city is served by several free shuttle services open to the general public:
- A South City Shuttle provides service between South San Francisco BART and the city's downtown. It includes trips to local stores, the senior center, libraries, city hall and parks. The shuttle provides transit connections with both BART and SamTrans;
- A shuttle linking the South San Francisco Ferry Terminal to the Utah/Grand Ave office area operates during commute hours, Monday through Friday;
- A shuttle linking the South San Francisco Ferry Terminal to the Oyster Point office area operates during commute hours, Monday through Friday.
The city is served by two major north-south freeways, U.S. Route 101 (the Bayshore Freeway), along the San Francisco Bay, and Interstate 280, along the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Employees in South San Francisco, CA have a longer average commute time of 25.1 minutes than the national average of 24.8 minutes. The largest share of workers in South San Francisco, drove alone to work in 2015, followed by those who carpooled and used public transit.
South San Francisco Demographics
- Total Population67,120
- Male Population(49.8 %) 33,420
- Female Population(50.2 %) 33,700
- Median Age39.10
- Average Household Income$110,853
- Median Household Income$92,074
- Median Income Under 25$81,250
- Median Income 25-44$96,065
- Median Income 45-64$112,548
- Median Income Over 65$54,424
Residential Rents in South San Francisco, CA
When choosing the best place for a business, location research is very important – not only for the office, but also for the employees’ convenience.
The average rent for an apartment in South San Francisco is $2,779/month, a 3% increase compared to the previous year, when the average rent was $2,695/month. The most affordable neighborhoods in South San Francisco are Avalon Park, Brentwood Park, and Buri Buri, whereas the most expensive neighborhoods in South San Francisco are considered to be Sunshine Gardens, The East Side, and Winston Manor.
South San Francisco, CA Average Rental Price, June 2019
- $ 2,666/mo
- Studio: $ 1,758
- 1 Bedroom: $ 2,423
- 2 Bedrooms: $ 2,960
South San Francisco, CA Rent Trends
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