The San Francisco Dream House Raffle 2013

Through its “Dream House Raffle” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts extracts capital from the red hot property market in San Francisco to finance its art programs. Prizes in the raffle include the multi-million dollar “Dream House” and a slough of other luxury prizes, including luxury cars, luxury vacations, and jewelry, and other capitalist trinkets. The raffle’s web site has the “look and feel” of a shopping channel site or a seedy internet scam. (Full disclosure: I am an artist who does not own property in San Francisco and has purchased raffle tickets in previous years.) The “Dream House Raffle” has run for the last five years.

SF Raffle Dream House

"Dream House" Raffle billboard, Bernal Heights, San Francisco, March, 2013

The irony is that this avowed supporter of the local arts is profiting from the red hot property and rental market that has driven many artists out of town. In addition YBCA’s celebration of exclusive, expensive luxury goods, absent of any balancing position on the housing situation in San Francisco and the Bay Area, brings into question its claim to represent of a cross-section of diversity in the City.

The high property values have been fueled primarily by the booming tech sector that is threatening to turn San Francisco into a playground for the young rich technocrati and their heavily pampered dogs [there are more dogs San Francisco than children].  In it’s “Dream House Raffle” the nightmare hypocrisy of this so-called liberal city is brought into sharp focus.

Advertisements for the “Dream House” are cropping up all over San Francisco – on billboards, on buses and bus shelters, and in BART stations. Along the platform at Powell Street station a long line of Dream House billboard advertisements disappears into the distance. Strangely, none of these ads mention YBCA as if, indeed, there is something embarrassing about the enterprise.

Dream House advertisements at Powell Street Station, San Francisco, April 2013

"Dream House" advertisements at Powell Street Station, San Francisco, April 2013

In its advertising, YBCA gives the general location of the “Dream House” but the address is a closely guarded secret. This year, the house is in Pacific Heights. After two hours using Google Maps with Street View, combined with pictures of the house itself and the views from it as shown on the raffle web site, I found it at 2508  Green Street.

The "Dream House" at 2508 Green Street, San Francisco

Some artists and activists are attempting to raise awareness of the contradictions surrounding the raffle. In January of this year, a group called “Occupy the Dream House” staged a demonstration at the 2012 Dream House in Menlo Park.

The drawing for the main prize is is scheduled for June 21, 2013 when the lucky winner of the “Dream House” will be announced and they will join the rich property owners on top of the hill.

Graffiti on the Bernal Heights "Dream House" Raffle billboard, April 2013

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12 Responses to The San Francisco Dream House Raffle 2013

  1. J. Smithj says:

    So Willie Brown is again advertising that a dream house will be given away in 2014. It’s going to be another year with no grand winner, but everyone who shells out $150 will be thinking they actually have a chance. Have you no decency Mr. Brown?

  2. L. Davis says:

    This year I was thinking of buying a raffle ticket, however I do not think it’s worth it. I called the SFRaffle 800 number and learned something interesting. It’s their goal to sell 85,000 tickets by the “deadline” (this year the deadline is Friday March 28th). If they do not meet their deadline then the “Dream House” is not available for the grand prize.

    This year they’ve only sold around 21,000 tickets. Why should I slap down $150 for a ticket when there’s no grand prize to win? It kind of defeats the whole purpose of playing the raffle to begin with.

  3. david cecil says:

    I guess i was kind of dickin it but maybe this is the only way they can get money and yes they could probably mention some of those issues. I live 500 miles away so don’t really know what is happening there I do know the rich get richer and poor people usually stay poor. Perhaps low income people would be better off leaving san francisco . I lived in Malibu for two years and hated it! Expensive crowded,septic only, propane only,over the lax flight corridor,fires and mudslides every year,no laundrymat,etc.etc.etc. Even if I could buy a house there I wouldn’t and I only lived there as a tenant who worked on the property for (free) rent.

    • andycox says:

      Thanks for your follow up comment. Man, do I like whining like a dog about the evils of society now and again! I too have some sympathy for them, but is this really the way for an an arts organization to raise money? Especially one whose stated mission is to “propel short and long term social change, and insure that live arts and living artists are vital to society”. Many low income people (artists included) are leaving San Francisco. If it wasn’t for rent control San Francisco would be taken over by people who work at Google and other tech companies – those who can afford the house prices. Not that there’s anything bad about those individuals, they’re just part of the system that rules the economy. There’s not much them or any of us can do about it.

  4. Dave says:

    Spoken like a true 21st century whiny weakling…

  5. eddie says:

    talk about being a hypocrite !f this guy won would not accept the money ?

  6. SKBN113 says:

    Only in liberal enclaves would I be subjected to remarks like “Capitalist trinkets”.

    Oh, please.

    Grow up, hippies!

    • andycox says:

      Thank you for your comment. I would welcome a more considered criticism of the post.

      • david cecil says:

        Mr Cocks this is what is great about this country a raffle you choose to enter or not please dont whine like a dog simply focus on whats important in your life and worry about real problems!

        • andycox says:

          Thank you for your comment. I’d would welcome your more considered comments on what you see as the real problems facing our society and how the dream house raffle is not emblematic of at least some of these problems. Would you disagree with this statement from the post for example: “The irony is that this avowed supporter of the local arts is profiting from the obscene property and rental market that has driven many artists out of town.” Displacement of artists and low income people from San Francisco due to the hot housing market fueled by the booming tech industry is a REAL problem and one that organizations like Yerba Buena Center for the Arts should be helping to publicize and address rather than celebrating the situation. Well considered comments please, not rudeness and insults!

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