Bay Briefing: Richer people left S.F. during pandemic, taking billions of dollars with them

In the early part of the pandemic, more wealthy residents who could work remotely left San Francisco, taking a large chunk of the economy with them.

From 2019 to 2020, IRS data showed that the number of people listed on tax returns in the city fell by 4.5%. Residents who left made an average of about $138,000 per year in 2019, up 67% from the previous year, when departing residents had an average annual income of around $82,000. San Francisco’s net outmigration nearly tripled in one year.

Fewer people living in the city means less business for local shops and directly contributed to the plunge in sales tax revenue from $165 million in 2019 to $88 million in 2020. City officials don’t expect sales tax revenue to recover to pre-pandemic levels until the fiscal year starting in July 2025.

Read more from Roland Li and Susie Neilson.

When will the luck run out?

 Bay Briefing: Richer people left S.F. during pandemic, taking billions of dollars with them

Firefighters battle the Lincoln Fire in Sausalito this month.

Ethan Swope/The Chronicle

Marin County’s wildfire activity has been remarkably limited, with just 6,000 acres burned in the past 20 years. Most recently, the Woodward Fire in 2020 scorched 4,000 acres.

That’s in sharp contrast to its neighbor, Sonoma County, which has seen major fires almost every year including Glass and Walbridge fires in 2020, Kincade Fire in 2019 and Tubbs Fire of 2017.

“We’ve just been lucky that we haven’t had the ignition in the wrong time and the wrong place,” said Mark Brown, executive officer of the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority.

Even so, the risk is high, particularly along the southeast slopes of Mount Tamalpais. And the lack of previous burn scars adds to that risk, Emma Talley writes.

• The latest on the Oak Fire in Mariposa County and air quality conditions that could affect parts of the Bay Area.

These maps show severe fires are morphing California forests into something we won’t recognize.

• See an interactive map of the latest wildfires burning across the Bay Area and California on the Chronicle Fire Tracker.

What to eat

 Bay Briefing: Richer people left S.F. during pandemic, taking billions of dollars with them

A rendering of Core’s culinary “lab” in San Francisco.


Next year, a flashy new restaurant inside San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid will open, featuring a former Giorgio Armani restaurant executive chef, an extensive wine library and a culinary “lab” where famous chefs will come cook.

But there’s a catch: To eat here, you’ll first have to pony up between $15,000 to $100,000 in initiation fees to become a member of a private international club called Core, which has locations in Milan and New York City.

Several nearby restaurant owners said they don’t feel threatened by the exclusive club and encourage more foot traffic to the area, while Core is betting big on downtown’s recovery, writes Elena Kadvany.

Around the Bay

 Bay Briefing: Richer people left S.F. during pandemic, taking billions of dollars with them

Maurice Caldwell (right), who spent 20 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction, thanks Alex Serrano for a haircut in Sacramento.

Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle

Seeking justice: After spending 20 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction, a man says S.F. cheated him out of $1 million.

Housing tech gold rush: The Bay Area’s housing crisis spawns creative tech startups that fill niches. Also:
What it’s like to live in the hottest Bay Area real estate neighborhoods now.

A triumphant comeback: More than 24,000 runners made their way through foggy weather Sunday, marking the return of the San Francisco Marathon without pandemic restrictions.

Radicalized online: Inside a far-right militia member’s plan to start civil war from the Bay Area. Listen to Chronicle reporter Joshua Sharpe discuss the story with “Fifth Mission” podcast cost Cecilia Lei.

Resignation sought: San Francisco’s NAACP branch calls for school board member Ann Hsu to step down over her “hurtful, racist” comments.

Chronicle editorial board: Anger over S.F. property crimes isn’t worth throwing away our privacy rights. More opinion: Why is S.F.’s drug crisis so out of control? Stop blaming Chesa Boudin, and look at Walgreens.

Zuckerberg sells S.F. home: The sprawling mansion in the Dolores Heights neighborhood went for $31 million, more than triple the Facebook co-founder’s purchase price.

Are you ready for some football? Here are 25 predictions for the upcoming 49ers season. Also: The five biggest questions surrounding the 49ers.

‘It affects everybody’

 Bay Briefing: Richer people left S.F. during pandemic, taking billions of dollars with them

Limestone spires known as tufa towers are illuminated by the moon outside Lee Vining (Mono County).

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

Mono Lake on the remote east side of the Sierra Nevada is unique in a number of ways, from its unusual rock formations to its salt-filled waters.

But now, amid a third year of drought, the lake is also in trouble, and the surrounding towns and wildlife inhabitants are feeling the pinch.

“It affects everybody, that lake — we all live around it,” said Marianne Denny, a 40-year resident of the basin. “Hopefully we’ll live to see more water.”

Parts of the lake popular with visitors have dried up, and fierce dust storms blowing off the exposed lake bottom are producing bad air pollution, writes Kurtis Alexander.

More climate news:

• Could high-tech clothing combat climate change? This Bay Area startup thinks so.

Bay Briefing is written by Kellie Hwang and Anna Buchmann and sent to readers’ email inboxes on weekday mornings. Sign up for the newsletter here, and contact the writers at and

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