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What do neighbors think about Trump’s visit to Billionaire’s Row? We rang 39 doorbells

Reactions were mixed, but the people of Pacific Heights seemed to dread the Secret Service as much as the former president.

A luxurious neighborhood with elegant houses and manicured gardens. In the background, there's a scenic view of a bay with hills and a red bridge.
Tech entrepreneur David Sacks is hosting Donald Trump at his Pacific Heights home, pictured at center, for a campaign fundraiser on Thursday evening. | Source: Noah Berger for The Standard

A fortress of sand-colored stone and metal gates, tech entrepreneur David Sacks’ palatial Pacific Heights home resembles a giant leaning backward, almost like it’s disgusted with the déclassé urban asphalt and pedestrian sidewalks out front.

Other homes on this stretch of Broadway are similarly walled-off, with the houses sitting on hilltops and accessed by long sets of stairs. The area is so upscale that the housekeepers and security guards inhabiting all the giant, empty houses had a special response when a reporter from the Standard rang their doorbells one recent afternoon: “Not in residence.” As in, their wealthy employers aren’t home.

People living in and around this ritzy part of San Francisco, colloquially known as Billionaire’s Row, are no strangers to visits from high-profile politicians—and the security and traffic chaos that accompany them. The posh neighborhood is a regular stop on the campaign fundraiser circuit, with both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris visiting the area earlier this year.

But that doesn’t make former president Donald Trump’s stop at Sacks’ home for a campaign fundraiser on Thursday night any less disruptive. Tickets start at $50,000 for the sold-out soiree, and top out at $300,000 per person or $500,000 per couple.

A large, luxurious house with a tile roof and gated driveway containing two black cars sits in a hilly neighborhood. Behind it is a cityscape and a body of water.
David Sacks’ Pacific Heights mansion on what's colloquially known as Billionaire's Row. | Source: Noah Berger for The Standard

Of the 39 homes that The Standard rang along Broadway, Pacific Avenue, Baker Street, Broderick Street and Vallejo Street, only six people answered their doors. Reactions to the ex-president and now convicted felon coming to the neighborhood were mixed.

“I think he’s a big bag of bullshit, but so is Biden,” said David Chamberlain, a 25-year Broadway homeowner.

Chamberlain, who lives a block away from Sacks, hadn’t heard about the fundraiser but said he supports the former president as a candidate. “If we have another four years of Biden, we won’t have a country anymore,” he said, echoing one of Trump’s favorite attack lines.

Jill, who lives in a Pacific Avenue apartment building and declined to give her last name, said she was surprised that Trump was even raising funds from a Democratic stronghold like San Francisco.

“This city is just so liberal,” Jill said.

A man with short gray hair is speaking, wearing a black blazer over a black shirt. He is sitting on a black leather armchair, gesturing with his hands animatedly.
David Sacks, co-founder of Craft Ventures, has recently gone full MAGA, declaring his unwavering support for Trump. | Source: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Another Pacific Avenue resident who declined to be named decried Trump’s visit and said they planned to stay away from the neighborhood on Thursday evening.

On Vallejo Street, a woman who answered the door at a palatial home said she “can’t stand Trump.” The woman, who would only identify herself as Miss Jensen, speculated that the dinner would be poorly attended. 

Another Vallejo Street resident who declined to provide her name said she knew Sacks and his family and said they are “wonderful people” but would not share her thoughts on him hosting the Trump fundraiser—or if she or her husband planned to attend.

“They are the most compassionate, generous family around,” she said. “They are such a beautiful family, their kids and ours go to school together.”

‘It was a disaster’

Residents of the upper reaches of Pac Heights are used to the hoopla that accompanies political fundraisers in the district—but that doesn’t mean they enjoy them.

Jackson, who lives on Pacific Ave. and declined to provide his last name, said during Biden’s Feb. 21 visit, security prevented him from going home for three hours before they finally agreed to escort him to his apartment.

Ivan Eck, who also lives on Pacific, said he felt indifferent about Trump’s visit but hates the restrictions that come with events like these. Eck said that when Biden was in town, the Secret Service required residents to provide an ID to be escorted home. 

“It was a disaster to get to our block,” Eck said.

An aerial view shows a modern house with a rooftop patio, solar panels, outdoor furniture, and lawns. Surrounding homes and streets with parked cars are visible.
Investor David Sacks’ Pacific Heights abode, pictured in an aerial drone view. | Source: Noah Berger for The Standard

On Vallejo Street, Jensen said security was much more lax during Biden’s visit. She said police officers on motorcycles sat at both ends of her block, but she had no trouble going to and from her home.

The Secret Service said intermittent road closures and parking restrictions would be in place during Trump’s visit on Thursday, but the agency did not say which roads would be affected or when. 

“The U.S. Secret Service works closely with our local law enforcement partners to minimize disruptions to the public while ensuring the highest level of safety and security,” spokesperson Nate Herring said in an emailed statement.

The San Francisco Police Department said it was not allowed to disclose specific security measures for the event.

“We are prepared to respond to any public safety needs of residents and visitors alike,” a police spokesperson said.

But as for the needs of the people of Pacific Heights, those will once again take a backseat to the demands of funding a presidential campaign. “Why is all this necessary?” said Jackson of the Trump dinner hoopla. “Can’t they just mail him a check?”