Why I Choose to Raise My Kids in San Francisco

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Jessica Holmes with husband, Kevin, and children Olivia, nine, and Emma, six. Courtesy of Jessica Holmes

My husband, Kevin, and I choose to raise our kids, Olivia, nine, and Emma, six, in San Francisco and specifically Potrero Hill because we value access to natural spaces, engagement in public spaces, and community.

I love being able to walk down Connecticut Street and enjoy a spectacular meal or entertainment in the Hill, Mission, Mission Bay or Dogpatch.  I equally love being able to turn and walk another direction to enjoy natural, wild spaces at our beautiful recreation center or Starr King Open Space.  One of my favorite new additions is the waterfront access now available at Crane Cove Park and the future blue greenway that’ll provide a wonderful respite. 

There’s always something fun to do in the neighborhood, whether it’s a playdate at our kids’ school, Daniel Webster Elementary, live music in a neighborhood plaza, or celebrating art, creativity or philanthropy at a block party or festival. I seldom plan weekend playdates for my kids as we tend to run into and see playmates organically. Even something as simple as opening the door and playing on our dead-end street typically results in a few kids passing by and joining for scooters and sidewalk chalk.  

There’s something energizing and spontaneous about being in public spaces. Moments of connection that can’t be planned – a passersby visit with an elderly couple, a young adult and an adorable dog, my kids befriending a young toddler, the connections that take root in being known and seen – and the knowledge exchanged.  

Living in San Francisco for 13 years and having kids for nine of those years, I believe nothing makes parenting easier outside of building your community. While well intentioned family members or consumer media may tell you otherwise, a larger home or the newest tech-enabled smart gadget won’t make parenting easier long term. Seasons of a child’s life and their needs are constantly changing. 

Living in my third residence in the neighborhood I can attest that every home footprint has pros and cons. What I can recommend is being in a location you love with enough space for your family and, if you can, leaving the neighborhood better for having been there. The children are looking to us adults as examples of how to live a meaningful, contented, adult life. I believe social responsibility, joy and connection to others is at the crux of it.  

I hope that in sharing our stories we can make urban child raising more normalized, joyful, meaningful, and connected for fellow parents and for those who may be parents one day. 

Connecticut Street resident Jessica Holmes works in digital and experiential marketing. In her free time, she roller skates, enjoys pastries and serves on the PREFund.org Board of Directors, preferably all at the same time. “Why I Choose to Raise My Kids in San Francisco” is the brainchild of the Potrero Residents Education Fund, a nonprofit committed to helping create a stronger, more vibrant San Francisco by ensuring that families from a diversity of income levels raise their children in the City. Submit your story to editor [at] potreroview [dot] net.