Here’s a quick little factbook:
New York City — Area: 468 square miles. Population: 8.5 million
Los Angeles — Area: 503 square miles. Population: 3.9 million
Chicago — Area: 234 square miles. Population: 2.7 million
Dallas — Area: 386 square miles. Population: 1.2 million
San Francisco — Area: 47 square miles. Population: 864,000
What is the upshot of all that? The upshot is that more of the residents of the San Francisco area live outside the city of San Francisco proper and in surrounding cities, compared to other major US cities.
That’s pretty straightforward. But it’s something that just totally falls by the wayside of most analyses of the cost of living of SF, its potential for in-fill development, and gentrification.
Do not, as one HN commenter recently did, say, “New York adds more housing units per year than SF does in a decade.” Well, yeah, dude. New York is 10x the size of SF.
Do not imagine that you can compare being priced out of SF to being priced out of one of the above cities — being priced out of SF is more like being priced out of the core downtown of one of those cities.
And do note, when you demand in-fill development of SF, that it is already the second-densest major US city (after New York).