This Might Be the Most Absurd San Francisco HOA Fee I’ve Ever Seen

It’s an amount that many people pay for their current rent in San Francisco — including myself.

I often let my mind wander into fantastical places on the internet; one such regular improbable destination sits in the realm of real estate ownership in San Francisco. As a writer, editor, and, recently, publication owner, the notion of procuring a domicile of my own remains an albatross — a wayward wish that seems as intangible as immortality. Nonetheless, one can dream in the corners of my dozens of internet tabs.


I click. I scroll. I click and scroll on Zillow and Craigslist in the wee hours of the night. Or during the day… when my mind finds said escapism far more dopaminergic than filling a Google Doc with text.

It’s an exercise that’s led me to find some really peculiar listings — i.e. a jail-cell-like apartment with a wet bath and unit inside a history-rich SF tower. Recently, I came across something so shocking, so obscene, so sobering that I simply haven’t stopped thinking about it: a $1,114 monthly HOA fee… for a $475,000 apartment at 1177 California Street.

Staggering? Absolutely. The average HOA fee sits somewhere between $200 to $300, though that median cost in California wildly eclipses that average, in many cases by over 150%.

Moreover: The typical HOA fee in California is usually less than 10% of the monthly mortgage payment, when factoring in a 20% down payment on the average CA home, which currently sits at $760,644 — a 4.4% year-over-year increase from 2021, according to Zillow.

So, for this condo? Doing some light math with the same financial parameters listed above, the nearly half-million-dollar, 411-square-foot home previously mentioned has an HOA that comes in at a staggering 40% of the $2,795 monthly mortgage payment.

For that $1,114, the Zillow-posted ad for the apartment at Gramercy Towers — a 17-story highrise owned and managed by Vanguard Properties — offers little to make that fee even remotely palpable. Said a resident of home would get access to a gym, indoor swimming pool and hot tub, a 24/hr doorman and security… and, barring a sauna, that’s it.

(On a personal anecdote, my current rent at my new 300-square-foot Nob Hill studio is $1,250 — a fiscal diamond I’m endlessly grateful to have unearthed by happenstance. When seeing HOA fees at this nauseatingly high price, I question why on earth I’d ever leave here… let alone forfeit over a grand for disposable amenities I don’t need nor want nor would ever need and want.)

Unfortunately, HOA fees sitting north of $1,000 a month aren’t uncommon in San Francisco. Units at 66 Cleary Court and 239 Brannan Street are known for shackling residents with high HOA fees — but these apartments all cost at least twice that of the one sitting inside Gramercy Towers. 

The lack of affordable housing will destroy San Francisco. This is merely a fact. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t (in time, with proper rezoning implements) convert some of the 27% of San Francisco’s downtown offices that sit vacant into housing. This is reasonably attainable.

Let’s just not slap them with useless luxuries and HOA fees.

Feature image: Courtesy of SFARMLS

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