Cow Hollow is a small, upscale and very affluent area that sits at the northern foot of Pacific Heights.
The housing stock is a mixture of property types that includes a high percentage of condos and other multi-unit buildings that support an above average population density for the city.
However, many of the condos are in smaller format buildings, of four units or less, and the single family homes are among the most expensive in the city.
Many homes have spectacular views of the bay including the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, Angel Island and more. The main retail shopping and dining area for Cow Hollow runs along Union Street between Steiner and Gough and also along Fillmore from Union to Lombard. This latter strip connects to the retail strip for the Marina, which runs along Chestnut from Fillmore to Divisadero.
Cow Hollow is part of a larger cluster of very upscale northern neighborhoods that include:
- Pacific Heights
- The Marina
- Russian Hill
- Nob Hill
Despite having an above average population density for the city, Cow Hollow and the Marina have a lower density than these other areas. Zoning has been more restrictive on the height of buildings in Cow Hollow and the Marina, so there are fewer dwelling units per building on average.
The section of Cow Hollow along all of Green Street, plus the whole area west of Steiner, has a higher percentage of single family homes than condos. This includes some glorious mansions and even a few embassies. The rest of Cow Hollow is primarily condos and low-density, multi-unit rental buildings.
Demographically, Cow Hollow and the other northern neighborhoods are relatively bi-modal, with the population split into two main groups. The first group is young, single, well-educated recent graduates that are renting and have moved to the area from out of state.
The second group is their slightly older precedents who have acquired enough wealth to own. While this is obviously a generalization, it is fairly accurate.
Landlords in Cow Hollow have not lost sleep over a tenant move-out for thirty or forty years, since there is always more demand than supply. Cow Hollow and the surrounding areas have a perpetual magnetic vitality that transcends economic conditions.
The northern and eastern borders of Cow Hollow are extremely busy streets. Lombard and Van Ness form a six-lane intra-city “highway” that connects the downtown financial district to the Golden Gate Bridge. All other things being equal, prices along these streets are significantly lower than the neighborhood interior.