This is a brief summary of San Francisco's history from the Kindred perspective. (For actual San Francisco history, check the web... there are many, many resources.) Note that when I speak of "control" (e.g., "the Ventrue controlled San Francisco's purse strings"), I mean control of Kindred society. The Kindred have always had a great deal of influence in San Francisco, with many public figures and much of the city's old money under their domination, but they do not have absolute control of mortal society or the city. For example, if the Prince of San Francisco wants to have the Police Chief fired or get a particular ordnance passed by the City Council, he can probably pull some strings and make that happen, but he cannot simply make the mortals who run the city do whatever he wants. Stopping a police investigation or getting a detainee released would require a considerable expenditure of influence... he cannot do such things casually. Likewise for all the other Kindred with power and influence in the Bay Area... they have enough clout that they can usually get their way, but they can't just make the entire city dance on their strings. Meddling too much with mortal affairs is risky. There are plenty of people who are not under their control, and who would notice and ask questions if strange things keep happening because of outside influence. It would be a dangerous mistake to assume that the police, City Hall, and San Francisco's wealthy elite are all pawns that the Camarilla can push around at will.
Other vampires may have visited the area previously. However, Northern California has always had a strong lupine presence, making it effectively impossible for any Kindred to settle here until there was a strong, fortified Kine community.
As far as anyone knows, Iņigo López de Mendoza (now the Prince of San Francisco) was the first vampire to settle here. He came up from Mexico and arrived in the 1780s, during a time of exploration in Northern California, as the Spanish were expanding the Presidio to protect the Bay Area from the British. For the rest of the 18th century, he had the area pretty much to himself, occasionally hosting visiting Kindred from Mexico or even Spain, but no other vampires settled here.
Gradually, more mortals and more Kindred came to the Bay Area, but until the Gold Rush of 1849, there were probably fewer than a dozen vampires in all of Northern California. (Antonio Javier Aguilar, now the Prince of San Jose, was Embraced by another Ventrue during the first half of the 19th century.)
With the Gold Rush, the population of the Bay Area swelled, and by 1860, Iņigo López de Mendoza was formally known as the Prince of San Francisco (and was effectively the Prince of all of Northern California). There were probably a dozen vampires in the greater Bay Area by this time, but it was becoming more common for other Kindred to pass through the area and visit.
Lucas Gorrell, who eventually became the Brujah Primogen, was Embraced in 1851.
The latter half of the 19th century saw a constant struggle between the Brujah (who favored the West Coast being "independent territory" and frequently encouraged Anarchs to settle here) and the Ventrue, led by Iņigo, his childer, and Antonio and his Sire. The Brujah recruited many ghoul retainers and were responsible for much of the crime in the Bay Area, sponsoring street gangs and riots, but the Ventrue controlled San Francisco's purse strings.
The first Toreador Primogen settled in San Francisco around 1860, making them the third clan to take a serious interest in the city. (Gangrel and Malkavians were already present in the area, but not in significant numbers.)
It wasn't until the 1880s (as far as anyone knows) that the first Nosferatu came to the city, now that there were more and more subterranean places for them to dwell in.
The first Tremere came to San Francisco and asked the Prince's permission to settle there in 1902. The Tremere Primogen came with two childer. The Tremere had been a significant presence in Los Angeles, but were wiped out in the warfare that was now going on in Southern California between the Sabbat and the Camarilla.
In 1906, when the Great Quake hit San Francisco, the Kindred population of the city was 12: 3 Ventrue, 3 Tremere, 2 Toreador, 2 Nosferatu, and 2 Malkavians. (Gangrel and Brujah lived in the area, but none had formal permission to live in San Francisco.)
The fires that razed much of the city after the Quake killed over half the Kindred in the city, including all of the Tremere and Malkavians, and the Nosferatu and Toreador Primogens.
The Brujah immediately saw this as an opportunity, and began Siring more childer and trying to take over the entire Bay Area. Meanwhile, the Toreador saw an opportunity to sap economic and social influence from the weakened Ventrue, and invited several more of their clan to the Bay Area. There was a great deal of violence, and many vampires sent to their Final Death, over the next few decades.
The Tremere immediately sent another Regent to found a new Chantry, and the Prince, seeing the Tremere as valuable and stable allies, was quick to permit it.
The Kindred population grew more during the 20s and 30s, with many vampires able to be sustained by the growing number of migrant workers in the surrounding ranches and orchards.
Chinatown grew in San Francisco starting in the 1840s, but the Chinese were mostly regarded by the Kindred as nothing more than "foreign food." There was no prohibition against Embracing Chinese, but none of the Kindred seemed inclined to do so.
In 1910, the Tremere realized that in the rebuilding that followed the Great Quake, several Cathayans had infiltrated themselves into the city.
This resulted in two years of quiet warfare between Kindred and Kuei-Jin, as the Kindred sought to drive the Cathayans out of the City. Many Kindred died (as did some of the Cathayans).
An unofficial cease-fire ended the overt hostilities in 1912, but the borders of Chinatown were a constant source of tension, and several times Brujah or Anarchs invaded Chinatown just to slaughter a few Chinese mortals and provoke the Cathayans, and the Kuei-Jin responded by causing trouble in the city. Undead corpses continued to pile up.
Finally, in 1919, a representative of the Cathayans came to negotiate with the Prince. They signed the "Munificent Peace Pact Between the Kindred of San Francisco and the New Promise Mandarinate of the Quincunx." Under this treaty, Chinatown is off-limits to Kindred, and residents of Chinatown are supposed to be hands (and fangs)-off as well, even if they are outside Chinatown.
This latter point is now a gray area -- at the time the treaty was signed, almost no Orientals lived outside Chinatown. Now, of course, many Asians live throughout the city. Theoretically, vampires are still supposed to leave Chinatown residents alone. However, vampires can hardly check whether any potential meal who happens to be Asian lives in Chinatown (and many can't tell Chinese from any other Asian ethnic group). Some vampires thus simply avoid feeding on Asians, while others figure that if the Kuei-Jin can't control their own herds, anyone outside of Chinatown is fair game. The Cathayans haven't made a huge issue of the occasional Chinatown resident who gets bitten while "off the reservation," but they do bring it up, which keeps the Kindred somewhat cautious where Chinese are concerned.
In return, Cathayans need permission from the Prince to traverse any of the Bay Area outside of Chinatown, even while entering or leaving. In practice, the Kindred suspect the Cathayans have ways of coming and going without detection, but the treaty has kept them from being caught actually wandering around (or hunting) outside Chinatown.
The struggle between the Brujah and the Ventrue for dominance in the Bay Area became outright warfare in the 1940s. Antonio Javier Aguilar, who was now the Primogen of the Ventrue, spearheaded the campaign against the Brujah and eventually crushed them. Since the 40s, any Brujah in the Bay Area have been tolerated at best, and they frequently associate with anarchs in the South Bay. However, the Brujah do unite with the rest of the Camarilla vampires when Sabbat raiders come to town.
Several Primogens died in the Great Quake (or rather, the fires that followed it). Another Primogen died in 1945, when a vampire hunter managed to take out the Regent of the Tremeres' San Francisco chantry. He was quickly replaced by an immigrant from England.
In 1959, bowing to pressure from the Primogen, and elders back East, Iņigo conceded that the entire Bay Area was now too large for him to control by himself. Initial schemes to appoint "deputies," and then to install one of his own Childer as a puppet Princeling, did not go over well, and finally Antonio Javier Aguilar, the Ventrue Primogen, claimed the mantle of Prince of San Jose. Iņigo and Javier do get along and cooperate well, but everyone knows that Iņigo never wanted to partition San Jose from his own domain, nor for Javier to become Prince.
In 1968, the Toreador Primogen was scandalized and humiliated, as part of a "coup" in which his own Childe, Cynthia Corey, was complicit. Faisal Gamal, who had been living in San Francisco for decades, became the Toreador Primogen after the previous Primogen left in disgrace.
San Francisco is now precariously overpopulated, even with Iņigo's strict policing of the city. His Primogen and many of the younger vampires are pressuring him to let more Kindred settle south and east of the city. Some are even looking at the sparsely populated towns of Northern California, although the lupine threat is much greater there.
Down south, the Sabbat have taken over most of Los Angeles, with the exception of well-defended Camarilla enclaves in Hollywood and Malibu. Now and then, Sabbat thugs drive up from L.A. to run amok in San Jose, or sometimes even sneak into San Francisco itself. The Princes of San Francisco and San Jose have been successful so far in killing or driving them away without breaching the Masquerade, but the Sabbat are growing bolder as their hold on the Southwestern United States becomes firmer.
There are Anarchs in the East Bay, and the Brujah are still smarting from their defeat at the hands of the Ventrue in the previous century.
The Tremere claim that the Cathayans in their midst are a threat too-long ignored, though no one but the Tremere knows what threat, exactly, the Kindred of the East pose.