Funny: I’m publishing this on December 18th, the same date I posted about the first few months of my new life in San Francisco. I indeed made it to Laguna Seca and Infineon (now Sonoma Raceway); CA-35 and CA-84 are still my second home. The fact that Caltrain is still – still – diesel and not electric still bothers me. The IKEA furniture I bought at the start of the decade is still with me. I’m still in SoMa not far from Townsend Street.
I’m about to move on from the last part. 2020 will take me to a new address and it won’t be in San Francisco.
When Ashley wrote about her year in New York, I felt like ten years in San Francisco probably deserves some words. On the other hand, “Why I’m Leaving San Francisco” posts are already in vast oversupply. I don’t have anything unique to add there. Instead, I’m trying to think of this as “Not Why I’m Leaving San Francisco.” So, take a look.
It’s Not Money
I’m lucky that I get to choose to live pretty much wherever I want. I have no rent control, but I’m okay spending money to live in a place I like. My rent doubled since I moved here, but I am fortunate to have few obligations in my life – no kids being the operative one in this situation, but also no debt and no need to work in an office every day. Not everyone is so lucky, and I wish the city could be more affordable to the folks who have families to take care of or debts to pay, among other obligations, if they want to live here.
It’s Not The Streets
I don’t see any reason to re-hash what’s happening on the sidewalks. It’s a complete failure of politics at several levels. That’s maybe the only exception to the next topic:
It’s Not The Politics
I have long since learned that I can’t agree with everyone around me on everything. It’s hard because I naturally seek consensus. I hate to watch the city shoot itself in the foot at every available opportunity, but I also am at peace with the fact that I have done what I can.
okay so what is it then kiel
It’s The Scarcity – Real and Manufactured
I thought about saying “it’s the people.” Considering how many friends I’ve made here, I was shocked by this conclusion and eventually walked it back. The language here betrays the meaning: it’s _some_ of the people. Just as it only takes a small number of toxic people to bring down a team in sports, or at work, or in anything, it only takes a few truly repugnant folks to ruin a city.
I can’t find any one persona that sums it up, either, which is maybe why it’s so hard to deal with. The common thread is instead an attribute found – pretty randomly distributed, to my perception – across a plethora of San Francisco archetypes: scarcity.
And that attribute can be related back to each of the typical reasons folks are bailing out: money, the condition of the streets, the voraciousness and ultimate ineptitude of the politics. The way people act when the things they need are scarce is very different and very unpleasant.
All of that leads to a lot of selfishness. It’s sort of amazing that a place that prides itself on being the origin, and to some the ongoing home, of counterculture can manage to distill and concentrate the attribute that makes our nation, and perhaps mankind, a bit of a disappointment.
Competition can be sporting and make us all better. But when the winner takes all, competition can show that darkness is inside all of us. So, then, that seems to be what I’m after: a healthy balance of competition and cooperation that highlights the best in people.
I’m not sure where I’ll find that, but I’m going to start looking.
One More Thing
I would, in the light of all evidence that this place is less than moldable, encourage everyone to remember that Good Things Can Happen In Other Places too. There’s no reason, to my eyes, that requires all other cities to fail in order for San Francisco to succeed, and the same goes for the reverse.
San Francisco Will Be Fine
I know a lot of folks are leaving. I don’t see that as a permanent problem. This is not a cataclysm. Certainly, it feels like this iteration has peaked. Some dark clouds will move in. It will be probably get tough for a while. Summer has come and gone; winter is coming. But rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have rebuilt San Francisco, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.
What I Thank This City (well, its people) For
- My first job out of college: Eventbrite. Ten years well-spent.
- Caring about preserving great things
- Showing me that there’s more than one right way to do just about everything
- Letting me be your guest for a decade