San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood, where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey owns $30 million worth of homes, is a parade of oceanside mansions. Here’s what it’s like inside.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Robin Williams, and Metallica's Kirk Hammett have all called Sea Cliff home at one point. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Robin Williams, and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett have all called Sea Cliff home at one point.

  • On the northwest corner of San Francisco lies the exclusive neighborhood of Sea Cliff.

  • It was founded in 1913 as one of the city’s residence parks, or makeshift suburbs.

  • It’s become one of San Francisco’s most elite residential areas housing prominent figures, including Twitter and Square founder and billionaire Jack Dorsey.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you need a reminder of San Francisco’s multifaceted landscape, go to Sea Cliff. 

As the name implies, it’s a neighborhood built on, and in some parts into, a cliff overlooking the expansive Pacific Ocean. It’s on the opposite side of the city center, away from the hustle and bustle — you’ll get a hefty whiff of salt and brush of sea breeze by merely wandering its streets.

Notable residents that have at one point owned property here include actors Robin Williams, Sharon Stone with then-husband Phil Bronstein — who was the executive editor for the San Francisco Examiner — Cheech Marin, and Eugene Levy; musicians Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane and Kirk Hammett of Metallica, prominent photographer Ansel Adams, and Bay Area tech bigwigs like Twitter and Square founder and CEO and billionaire Jack Dorsey, who reportedly paid a collective $30 million for two homes next door to each other, both nestled into a cliffside overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a coveted neighborhood, Sotheby’s real-estate agent Anne Herrera told Business Insider in a 2019 interview.

“It has become a place for those that have the means to do so to buy a house and still be in the city, but still be very connected to nature and all the beauty of the views of the bridge and the beach,” Herrera said.

We spent a day meandering through the neighborhood’s streets in early 2020, down El Camino Del Mar, Sea Cliff Avenue, and into the public cove of China Beach where Jack Dorsey’s home is visible.

It’s a breathtaking part of San Francisco — here’s what it’s like inside.

Sea Cliff is a neighborhood on the northwest corner of San Francisco.

Homes are seen built into the cliffside in Sea Cliff. <p class="copyright">Courtesy of Open Homes Photography for Sotheby's International Realty</p>
Homes are seen built into the cliffside in Sea Cliff.

Sea Cliff was founded in 1913 as one of San Francisco’s eight master-planned residence parks, or “garden suburbs.”

Fast forward to today, and it’s still as peaceful as it was when it was built. 

But what was originally intended to be merely a reprieve from city life has transformed into one of 21st century San Francisco’s most elite neighborhoods thanks in part to the proximity to the ocean.

The Pacific seen from a lookout point in Land's End. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The Pacific seen from a lookout point in Land’s End.

Some of the most beautiful vantage points of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Pacific Ocean are in Sea Cliff.

And some of the highest-priced and most coveted homes in the city are located here.

The roof of a Sea Cliff home peeks out from a hedge. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The roof of a Sea Cliff home peeks out from a hedge.

Sea Cliff itself technically covers a larger area of the city than just the main residential area. Land’s End, Sutro Baths, the Legion of Honor museum, and other attractions are lumped into the neighborhood.

The Lincoln Park Steps. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The Lincoln Park Steps.

But many of the Sea Cliff homes are concentrated in the east part of the neighborhood.

One of Sea Cliff's many tony homes. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
One of Sea Cliff’s many tony homes.

Weaving through the streets of San Francisco’s exclusive Sea Cliff neighborhood is like walking through a surreal museum of lavish homes.

Homes along Lake Street in Sea Cliff. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Homes along Lake Street in Sea Cliff.

We visited on a Tuesday afternoon in February, in the middle of a workday, so the neighborhood seemed void of all residents.

Cars are parked along a street in Sea Cliff. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Cars are parked along a street in Sea Cliff.

Though it seemed as though many homes haven’t been occupied in a while — there were still pumpkins on display at this home, but perhaps the live-in owners are simply busy.

A home had five pumpkins atop a wall and on its porch. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
A home had five pumpkins atop a wall and on its porch.

There was, however, no shortage of landscapers and contractors, working hard to manicure the pristine lawns and conducting renovations — some inside, some out — on the exquisite homes.

The intersection of El Camino Del Mar and 32nd Avenue. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The intersection of El Camino Del Mar and 32nd Avenue.

The layout of the residential streets is indeed reminiscent of suburban design — the streets and sidewalks were narrower than what you would find in a city setting, and trees were symmetrically lined along the roads.

Neat lawns surround a sidewalk in the neighborhood. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Neat lawns surround a sidewalk in the neighborhood.

Homes here sell on average for $4.2 million. That’s well above San Francisco’s median home value of $1.45 million.

Homes in Sea Cliff. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Homes in Sea Cliff.

Source: Zillow and Zillow

One of the most expensive homes currently for sale publicly is a four-story white home built in 1915 that is listed for $8.8 million with unobscured views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

A home on Sea Cliff Avenue. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
A home on Sea Cliff Avenue.

It was listed on February 3, its first time on the public market, according to public records.

Source: Zillow

El Camino Del Mar — Spanish for “the way or path of the sea” — is the main thoroughfare in Sea Cliff, cutting east to west from the Presidio and into Land’s End.

El Camino Del Mar is wider than many of the streets in Sea Cliff. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
El Camino Del Mar is wider than many of the streets in Sea Cliff.

Palm trees, Spanish tile roofing, and red-bricked porches are common sights along the road, and throughout the neighborhood.

A home on El Camino Del Mar. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
A home on El Camino Del Mar.

This Spanish-style four-bedroom home on El Camino Del Mar was built in 1924 and last sold for $6 million in December 2014.

The home on El Camino Del Mar. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The home on El Camino Del Mar.

Source: Redfin

Zillow estimates that this two-story yellow home built in 1927 with 12 rooms is estimated to be worth $6.6 million, though it’s not for sale.

The home on El Camino Del Mar. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The home on El Camino Del Mar.

Source: Zillow

A few doors down is an 18-room, rose-colored manor built in 1926 that occupies nearly half an acre on a corner lot. It’s currently off the market but estimates by Zillow and Redfin value it at $8.8 million and $9.6 million, respectively.

The mansion on El Camino Del Mar. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The mansion on El Camino Del Mar.

Source: Zillow and Redfin

Most of the Sea Cliff homes are of Spanish, Mediterranean, or the city’s signature Victorian design.

Homes near the intersection of McLaren Avenue and El Camino Del Mar. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Homes near the intersection of McLaren Avenue and El Camino Del Mar.

But some are modern — this home last sold on the public market for $3 million in 2010.

The home on El Camino Del Mar. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The home on El Camino Del Mar.

Source: Redfin

The two-story home was originally built in 1951 and has three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Large windows in the home. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Large windows in the home.

Source: Redfin

There are smaller arteries branching out from El Camino Del Mar like 32nd Avenue, a street running perpendicular to the coast that might be one of the quaintest.

Homes along 32nd Avenue in Sea Cliff. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Homes along 32nd Avenue in Sea Cliff.

At the northern end along a bend in the road is a home that was once a Danish consulate. It was owned by a Google lawyer and the founder of shoe startup Rothy’s in 2016 when a driver crashed into the house.

The Sea Cliff home on 32nd Avenue. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The Sea Cliff home on 32nd Avenue.

Source: Curbed SF

They sold their home, which was damaged by a fire that erupted from the crash, in mid-2017 for over asking price for $3.1 million, less than a month after it was first listed. The ad came with disclaimers like “sold as is” and “buyer beware.”

The left side of the home on 32nd Avenue. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The left side of the home on 32nd Avenue.

The new owners renovated it and, less than a year later in April 2018, listed it for sale for $6.5 million. A founder of a New York startup investment firm snagged it three months later for $6.75 million, according to public records.

Source: Redfin and Curbed SF

If you head back up to El Camino Del Mar and turn right, the street will eventually merge into Sea Cliff Avenue, a street running parallel to the coast at the northern end of residential Sea Cliff.

The Golden Gate Bridge looms in the distance. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The Golden Gate Bridge looms in the distance.

The homes on this street have front-row seats to the Pacific Ocean and are some of the only homes to be literally built into the cliffside.

The ocean is in view beyond a pair of gates to a home on Sea Cliff Avenue. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The ocean is in view beyond a pair of gates to a home on Sea Cliff Avenue.

The pink home at 224 Sea Cliff Avenue, a “fixer-upper” according to a 2019 Business Insider interview with the home’s listing agent, is in serious need of some TLC and doesn’t even come with photos of the interior.

The home at 224 Sea Cliff Avenue. <p class="copyright">Courtesy of Open Homes Photography for Sotheby's International Realty</p>
The home at 224 Sea Cliff Avenue.

Source: Business Insider

And yet it’s listed for sale for $13.1 million, though it was listed in July to be sold at a foreclosure auction. It comes with a winding pathway down to a secluded seaside cove.

The winding pink pathway leads to a secluded cove. <p class="copyright">Courtesy of Open Homes Photography for Sotheby's International Realty</p>
The winding pink pathway leads to a secluded cove.

Source: Zillow

It was once owned by Luke “Lucky Luke” Bragnara, a real-estate mogul and notorious art scammer who stashed hordes of stolen art worth a collective $11 million in the home in 2014.

The home at 224 Sea Cliff Avenue. <p class="copyright">Courtesy of Open Homes Photography for Sotheby's International Realty</p>
The home at 224 Sea Cliff Avenue.

He was sentenced to a seven-year jail term for fraud. A series of liens placed on the home caused it to struggle to sell until October 2019 when it cropped back up on the market as a bankruptcy sale.

Read more: This dilapidated $15 million mansion built into a San Francisco cliffside once housed ‘Lucky Luke’s’ stolen art — now it’s for sale

A few doors down and across the street is this two-story, five-bedroom house that doesn’t face the water. It last sold on the public market in 2013 for $3.2 million.

The home on Sea Cliff Avenue. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The home on Sea Cliff Avenue.

Source: Zillow

Down the street is not one but two homes next door to each other once owned by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett.

A wall conceals part of this home, one of Hammett's past abodes. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
A wall conceals part of this home, one of Hammett’s past abodes.

The home at 308 Sea Cliff Avenue sold in March 2018 for $12.8 million. And, according to Socketsite, the other home at 320 Sea Cliff sold in early 2019 for nearly $12 million.

Photos in the listings show breathtaking ocean views from the inside of both homes.

Source: Curbed SF, Curbed SF, Redfin, and Socketsite

Walk around the corner from Hammett’s previous homes and down a short path, and China Beach will begin to come into view.

The beach visible from Sea Cliff Avenue. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The beach visible from Sea Cliff Avenue.

It’s a cove open to the public and nestled at the northern end of the residential area of Sea Cliff.

The Golden Gate Bridge is seen from China Beach. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The Golden Gate Bridge is seen from China Beach.

A winding staircase leads down from the street level to the beach.

The path to the beach. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The path to the beach.

The beach’s history is engraved on a stone at the entrance. According to local legend, Chinese fishermen once used it as a campground while anchoring their fishing boats in the cove.

A stone marker at the entrance to Ocean Beach. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
A stone marker at the entrance to Ocean Beach.

Source: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Legend or not, the plaque was erected by Chinese Americans in 1982 to honor the Chinese fisherman that contributed to the San Francisco Bay Area since the time of the Gold Rush.

A seabird flies low over the water at China Beach. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
A seabird flies low over the water at China Beach.

Source: National Park Service

Down near the beach, there’s a deteriorating structure once used by lifeguards to store equipment.

The structure stands with one of Hammett's homes (to the far left) in the background. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The structure stands with one of Hammett’s homes (to the far left) in the background.

Source: Curbed SF

Standing in the alcove of China Beach’s public sand is a surreal feeling similar to touring the neighborhood, like you’re on a stage with the homes tucked away in the hillsides staring down at you.

Homes are tucked into the hills in Sea Cliff. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Homes are tucked into the hills in Sea Cliff.

On one side of the amphitheater are four homes, the left two once belonging to Hammett, the Metallica bassist.

Not pictured: one more home on the tip of the cliff to the far left. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Not pictured: one more home on the tip of the cliff to the far left.

Pivot in the opposite direction and there, peeking out from the foliage, is the roof of a home belonging to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. It’s a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house clad in dark wood. Dorsey purchased it in 2012 for $10 million.

The roof of one of Dorsey's Sea Cliff homes juts out from the foliage. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The roof of one of Dorsey’s Sea Cliff homes juts out from the foliage.

Source: Variety

And in November 2019, he reportedly bought the two-story house right next door in an off-market sale for $21 million, perhaps for more privacy — the second house is wedged in right alongside his home of eight years, though it’s difficult to catch sight of that one from the beach.

One of Dorsey's Sea Cliff homes is visible from the beach. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
One of Dorsey’s Sea Cliff homes is visible from the beach.

It was the highest price ever paid for a property in the Sea Cliff neighborhood, according to Variety.

Source: Variety

The newly purchased home was in need of a restoration, with one building complaint claiming that the property had gone unoccupied for 15 years, according to Mansion Global.

Dorsey's home peeking out from its perch. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Dorsey’s home peeking out from its perch.

It has five bedrooms and three bathrooms and was built in 1962.

Source: Mansion Global

Neither home was visible from the street, but there were workers and construction equipment and materials along the street where the entrances would be.

Not Dorsey's home — his properties are to the left of this home on El Camino Del Mar. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Not Dorsey’s home — his properties are to the left of this home on El Camino Del Mar.

Dorsey reportedly is turning the two homes into a single compound.

Dorsey's home is to the upper left. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
Dorsey’s home is to the upper left.

Source: Mansion Global and Variety

With views like this, it’s not unheard of for one of the richest men in tech — and the world — to opt for such a living situation in one of the most beautiful parts of Square and Twitter’s hometown.

The Golden Gate Bridge is seen from China Beach. <p class="copyright">Katie Canales/Business Insider</p>
The Golden Gate Bridge is seen from China Beach.

Source: Business Insider

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