Look. I, like anyone who's stayed in this city over a decade, have no shortage of love for all things San Francisco. I defend it against the dismissals of Angelenos and New Yorkers all the time. But when it comes to New Year's Eve, I can think of at least a dozen cities I'd rather spend it in than SF. Here's why:
1. The Weather
Some years SF may luck out, weather-wise. And sure, December 31st in the Bay Area is a far cry from the Arctic torture much of the rest of the country endures this time of year. But December and January are typically the months of the year that San Franciscans feel most put-upon when it comes to leaving the house, either because of the rain or the cold. We're sensitive that way, and unlike our tougher skinned brethren to the north and east, we don't feel the need to be out of doors at this particular time if we don't have to be.
2. Half the Town Is Gone
Party promoters run up against this problem year after year: The week between Christmas and New Year's is a lot like the week of Burning Man in San Francisco. Half the city empties out and people are still off wherever they went for Christmas, or they stacked a second destination into their holiday travel so that they high-tail it to Cabo or Puerto Vallarta or Cuba immediately after escaping the confines of their parents' house in deepest bumfuck wherever. Sure, there may be one or two events that succeed in drawing fun crowds this year, or any year, but you'll be hard pressed to find the city full of energy and rocking out with any of the same volume that you'd find, say, after we win the World Series, or on any given randomly warm night in May or September. Contrast this with New York, which just feels more packed than ever on New Year's and is full of tourists cramming Times Square in the frigid cold for no good or justifiable reason.
3. Lack of Adequate Public Transit
Sure, Uber and Lyft and Sidecar: they're great. They've been a godsend on most nights of the year when finding a cab would have been a joke in years past. But even the ride-share services will be surging big time and tough to snag on a night like New Year's Eve, given the bridge-and-tunnel tourism factor among other things. Thankfully Flywheel is offering $10 flat rates all night to compete, using regular taxis. But even in a city like New York that is FULL of yellow cabs, those witching hours when the parties die out between 2 and 4 a.m. can make for impossible cab-getting. So, good luck getting home without stress or tears.
4. The Fireworks Problem
See also: The 4th of July Fireworks Problem. Given the vagaries of our weather, you could have fog on New Year's Eve or you could have rain. Granted, fog is less likely this time of year than in July, but weather-wise it's still not a great time to hoof it out to the Embarcadero. And who wants to ride the F on a night like this?
5. We Party A Lot The Rest of the Year, So We're Tired
SF is largely becoming a young person's city, with few children, and our population of recent college graduates not to mention really well paid thirtysomethings who still party like recent college graduates do a lot of hard drinking and cavorting 11 and a half months out of the year. Once we've gotten through all the office parties and holiday parties and family gatherings of December, we're pooped! New Year's Eve becomes a time for quiet house parties and adult dinner parties with board games and making every effort to avoid dumping hundreds of dollars on prix-fixe meals that were designed to gouge tourists and bridge-and-tunnelers. Also, New Year's Eve has always been amateur hour, and given our above-average density of professional drinkers, we know better than to go out with the riff-raff on a night like this. And besides, why would we want to start Sober January off hungover?