Lake Merced District

Once home to horse racing, farms and roadhouses, the Southwest District, or District 3 (sometimes also referred to as the “Lake Merced District”), was one of the last areas to be developed in San Francisco. Today, District 3 is home to San Francisco State University Campus, City College of San Francisco, the San Francisco Zoo, the San Francisco Golf Club, the Lake Merced Golf Club, and a 700-acre municipal park among other attractions

With the Pacific Ocean, lakes, parks, and country clubs to the north and west, the recreational options are abound in this District.  While most of the neighborhoods are primarily residential, the Stonestown Galleria and Lakeshore Plaza offer convenient shopping, and the presence of college students provide for a good mix of many age groups and lifestyles.

Homes in the area range from upscale family homes in the Pine Lake Park and Merced Manor neighborhoods to the modest student abodes scattered primarily through Merced Heights and Stonestown neighborhoods. The so-called “OMI” (Oceanview, Merced Heights, and Ingleside) neighborhood houses smaller residential properties primarily built before the 1940’s. Easy access to the Muni as well as to the 1 and 280 Freeways make transportation a breeze, and a range of single family homes, apartments, townhouses, and condos provide housing options for most budgets and lifestyles.

Whether you are a student, golfer, or animal lover, District 3 has something to offer everyone looking for a friendly, family-oriented atmosphere. With everything from shopping, to lakes, to zoo, Southwest San Francisco is a great little corner of the big city.

District 3 includes the following neighborhoods:

  • Ingleside
  • Ingleside Heights
  • Lake Shore
  • Lakeside
  • Merced Heights
  • Merced Manor
  • Oceanview
  • Pine Lake Park 
  • Stonestown

Ingleside (Sub-District 3-h) – this neighborhood is located near of City College of San Francisco and is bordered by Ocean Avenue to the north, Ashton Avenue to the west, Lakeview Avenue to the south and I-280 to the east. The commercial center of Ingleside runs along Ocean Avenue, offering a range of shopping and dining options. The Lakeview and Ashton Mini Park provide excellent views of the ocean and all directions. The nearby Ingleside Terrace (located in District 4, Twin Peaks West) boasts the annual Sundial Park Picnic, with bicycle, chariot and wagon racing. Ingleside’s southern neighbor, Oceanview, houses the Oceanview Playground and the Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 73 and an average Transit score of 78.  

Ingleside Heights (Sub-District 3-g) – this neighborhood is a diverse mostly residential area bordered by Shields Street to the north, Orizaba avenue on the east, I-280 and San Francisco – San Mateo county line to the south and Juniper Serra Boulevard to the west.

Once primarily agricultural, Ingleside Heights and its northern neighbor Merced Heights were developed with the advent of public transportation and the need of affordable housing after World War II, with most of the homes being constructed in the 1940s and 1950s. It is one of the steepest neighborhoods in the city, with brightly colored modest buildings squeezed together, some with views. Having been developed according to an urban plan, most neighborhood homes follow the formula of single story dwelling built over a garage, with relatively generous (by city standards) back yards. Today, proximity to public transportation, easy access to I-280 as well as the nearby parks, golf courses, and shopping centers are among the factors that attract residents and visitors alike.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 74 and an average Transit score of 75.

Lake Shore (Sub-District 3-a) – originally called “Lakeshore Park”, this quiet neighborhood is bounded by Sloat Boulevard, Lake Merced Boulevard and San Francisco-San Mateo county line. It was developed just before and after World War II as a “model community” of single-family homes, apartments and townhouses targeting high-end buyers.

Surrounding some of San Francisco’s best golf courses, including The Olympic Club, Harding Park, and the San Francisco Golf Club, Lake Shore is an attractive, well-kept neighborhood in a quiet corner of San Francisco. Lake Merced is in the heart of this neighborhood and Fort Funston and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are on the far western edge, offering tranquility along with miles of trails for joggers, hikers, and bikers. Despite this tranquility, Lake Shore is well served by public transportation and is easily accessible via I-280. Lake Shore Plaza (a small neighborhood mall) and nearby Stonestown Galleria serve the neighborhood residents’ everyday needs.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 12 and an average Transit score of 39.

Lakeside (Sub-District 3-e) – located between the Stonestown and Ingleside Terrace neighborhoods, this long, narrow neighborhood in shape is bounded by 19th Avenue (Highway 1) and Junipero Serra Boulevard to the south of Sloat Boulevard. The neighborhood’s name is a bit of a misnomer as while being next to the nearby Lake Merced, it is in fact very close to San Francisco State University Campus and the Stonestown Galleria.

Despite being enveloped by some of the busiest streets in San Francisco, Lakeside is a well-kept and surprisingly tranquil area. Primarily developed between 1930s and 1950s, Lakeside was a pricy subdivision for its time, offering lovely homes and embracing the modern trend of placing utility lines underground. Although most of the homes may be considered relatively modest by today’s standards, they are attractive and well maintained, with many residences featuring the white picket fences that were considered a signature for the neighborhood in its early years.

In addition to a number of shops, services, and eateries at the northern end of the neighborhood, the nearby Stonestown Galleria offers a plethora of amenities, including Macys and Trader Joe’s. Public transportation (including bus service and light rail) is readily available, plus I-280 and Highway 1 (19th Avenue) are conveniently nearby as well.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 78 and an average Transit score of 72.

Merced Heights (Sub-District 3-b) – formerly known as “Lakeview” and well known for its hills, this quiet picturesque area sitting on a steep hillside between Ingleside Terrace and Ingleside Heights is an integral part of the so-called “OMI” (Oceanview, Merced Heights, Ingleside) neighborhood. It is bounded to the south by Shields Street, to the west by Junipero Serra Boulevard, to the north by Holloway Avenue, and to the east by Ashton Avenue.

Merced Heights was one of the last neighborhoods in the OMI to be developed. Although a few homes were constructed prior to World War II, the development reached its peak in the late 1940s and ‘50s. Most homes sit on uniformly sized lots and come in a variety of postwar architectural styles (such as row houses similar to those in the nearby Sunset District, with a few older detached homes).

While there is no commercial district in Merced Heights, various shops, restaurants and businesses are nearby as well as transportation and recreational opportunities. The neighborhood boasts two public parks: Brooks Park, which in addition to magnificent views has play equipment, BBQ pits, as well as a community garden; and Merced Heights Playground which offers tennis and basketball courts, play structures, and a recreational center. Commuters will appreciate the accessibility to public transportation (BART, light rail, and bus lines) as well as proximity State Route 1 running along 19th Avenue and leading to I-280 is just minutes away.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 69 and an average Transit score of 74.

Merced Manor (Sub-District 3-f) - this compact neighborhood bordered by Sloat Boulevard to the north, 19th Avenue to the east, Eucalyptus Drive to the south and 20th Avenue to the west boasts beautifully kept residences. Most of the homes here were built between the early 1930s and the late 1950s, offering an impressive selection of architectural styles, from elaborate storybook homes with archways to the geometric lines of Streamline Moderne residences. Utilities are underground in this neighborhood and most properties have alleyways that allow homeowners to access their garages from the back, giving the neighborhood a gracious feel.

While being a residential neighborhood, Merced Manor is within walking distance of Stonestown Galleria, a full service shopping center. The nearby Lake Merced, Harding Park, the San Francisco Golf Club, the Olympic Club, and Stern Grove offer excellent biking, hiking and other recreational options. Access to Highway 1 and I-280 is quick and convenient, and public transportation allows one to reach downtown San Francisco in less than 30 minutes.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 74 and an average Transit score of 64.

Oceanview (Sub-District 3-j) – originally an agricultural area, this ethnically diverse primarily residential community located just north of I-280 is an integral part of the so-called “OMI” (Oceanview, Merced Heights, Ingleside) neighborhood. It is bordered by I-280 to the south and east, Lakeview Avenue to the north and Orizaba Avenue to the West.

Like some other neighborhoods in San Francisco, the name of this landlocked area is somewhat of a misnomer – while Oceanview does have some lovely views they are not necessarily of the ocean – it is often referred to as “Lakeview” by the locals. In fact, Oceanview takes its name from the Ocean View railroad station that served passengers traveling between San Francisco and San Jose in the late 1800s.

Oceanview boasts an interesting assortment of residences, mostly single-family houses combined with some flats built after the 1940s. There are Victorians and Edwardians dating back to the 1800s and early 1900s along with Sunset District style row houses, placed on standard sized lots and built with a goal of quick and inexpensive construction. However, some of the most interesting historic homes in the neighborhood are perhaps a handful of surviving small earthquake cottages that served as homes for refugees after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

In terms of recreation, the neighborhood offers its residents an Oceanview Playground, Ocean View Branch Library and Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center – a 10-acre park with baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts as well as picnic and BBQ areas. Oceanview is well served by public transportation (both the Daly City and Balboa Park BART stations are nearby) and its residents enjoy easy freeway access. A primarily residential area, there are a few small neighborhood shops and businesses serving residents, but the primary commercial district is in the nearby Stonestown Galleria, which offers many amenities including restaurants, grocery stores, banks, and department stores.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 61 and an average Transit score of 81.

Pine Lake Park (Sub-District 3-c) - this small and quiet neighborhood is an enclave of beautiful family residences adjacent to Stern Grove, with many homes bordering the golf courses. Pine Lake Park neighborhood is bounded by Wawona Street to the north, 19th Avenue to the east, Sloat Boulevard to the south and Sunset Boulevard to the west.

The neighborhood started being developed in the late 1920s by the builders who created the so-called “Sunstream Homes” (featured prominently in the Sunset District) with the construction being completed by the mid-20th century. Generally, homes in Pine Lake Park are single family detached residences sitting on moderately sized lots with nicely manicured lawns. Architectural styles range from classically styled residences in the eastern section to ranch-style and the “living-quarters-over-garage” rowhouses typical of the Sunset District in the western portion of the neighborhood. Underground utilities offer a clean looking environment, adding to the neighborhood’s charm.

While being a residential area, Pine Lake Park has easy access to amenities necessary for everyday life - the nearby Stonestown Galleria offers a plethora of amenities, including Macys and Trader Joe’s, and recreation is literally in the neighborhood with the trails and green spaces found in Stern Grove (which is also a great venue to enjoy free summer concerts) and Pine Lake Park.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 32 and an average Transit score of 68.

Stonestown (Sub-District 3-d) – home to San Francisco State University and the mall known as “Stonestown Galleria”, this mostly residential neighborhood has a lot of green space and many outdoor recreational opportunities thanks to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Stonestown neighborhood is bounded by Buckingham Way to the north, 19th Avenue to the east, Brotherhood Way to the south, and Lake Merced Boulevard to the west.

Formerly the site of horse racing and farms, the neighborhood now houses colleges, shopping, a municipal park, a nearby zoo and a golf course. A significant portion of Stonestown (Parkmerced) was a planned community designed to encourage San Franciscans to stay in the city by offering the amenities of the suburbs, combined with the conveniences of city life.
Much of the homes in Stonestown are apartment rentals, with mostly mid-century apartment buildings representing a mix of garden apartment complexes and mid/high-rise apartment towers, popular with the local college students.

Today Stonestown is probably best known for its shopping center – Stonestown Galleria, which opened in 1952. Adjacent to the University of San Francisco campus, the Galleria serves as the commercial hub for surrounding neighborhoods. The neighborhood’s residents enjoy the proximity to the university, public transportation, shopping, and recreational opportunities at nearby Lake Merced and Harding Park as well as other recreational areas.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 83 and an average Transit score of 68.

The below links provide further details on these neighborhoods and their attractions:


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About Kate

As a long-term resident of San Francisco, Kate is well familiar with the city’s past and present. With her professional background and deep knowledge of the local housing market, Kate is in the position to best assist with your real estate needs. Should you be looking for a recommendation on the upcoming cultural or social events and/or if you need a trusted local real estate advisor, ask Kate – San Francisco is her HOME.

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