A small (1300 sq ft) house in SF can be bought for $750K in some neighborhoods in the south of the city. The ones in between the fancy ones and the crappy ones.
I did a pretty detailed analysis of what everything would cost. Loss of investment income on the down payment, insurance, property taxes, etc. And came out to around $4100.
You can rent the same house in SF for around $3750/month, so unless you're assuming a pretty spectacular rise in home values, it doesn't make sense to purchase.
Rent control definitely favors renting in a lot of situations. If you were at the whim of your landlord, then I could see buying being more attractive, especially in a market where housing prices are going up.
The real kicker about owning a house is that housing prices never go up a nice steady 2% or 3% per year. They go up 5% one year, then down 5% the next. If you don't have control over when you sell (loss of a job, etc), that can really hammer you.