EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 leaving | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'leaving'

And So It Begins…

I’ve been writing this blog for over 10 years now, maybe not as often as I would like to lately, but things have been changing and it’s time that I have to unfortunately announce that I, of all people, am packing up my house in the Sunset District and leaving San Francisco to move my family to New England.

Just to recap, I’ve lived in San Francisco all my life. That’s over 55 years now and I’ve seen lots of changes going on over the years. The worst part of all of it I have to say is the ever increasing population. San Francisco has added 150,000 residents since 2010 alone and things are just getting a little too crowded for me. Add to this the tech world taking over the city in a put all your eggs in one basket and once you pass 35 unless you’ve got yourself set in a job it becomes harder and harder to find work.

This is something that’s been developing for a long time. I started to notice that when I started this 10 years ago I was writing about all the great things there were to do in the City. If you look back count how many of them are still around today — very few is the correct answer. I started to notice that instead of writing about what was great about San Francisco I was having to focus on what was wrong with the City. Unfortunately I don’t have enough pull to really make any change and most of the time when I do get contacted by people who can make a change they’re asking me to stop writing about what I’ve been writing about.

There are other things too. $4 toast has turned into $18 toast. Burritos have gone up $15 in some places. Rent, well we won’t even talk about rent other than it’s more than a monthly mortgage in most other places of the US. It’s just getting more and more expensive to live here and with those who can live here more easily the rich are getting less and less liberal while spending more and more money. San Francisco was always the city where counter-culture reigned supreme, but now our local politicians are listening more to the conservative votes because they have more money to donate to their election funds [after they spend $30 at the local coffee shop].

San Francisco has always been about change, but now it’s a kind of change that I just don’t feel right being in the middle of it. While the city is getting more and more crowded the new people want to add more and more affordable housing which they don’t seem to realize that every time San Francisco has tried to add affordable housing since the late 50’s it’s ended up not being affordable [SIDE NOTE: SoMA, Mission Bay, Hayes Valley were all originally built to be affordable housing which they aren’t.]

So as you read the last two paragraphs you’ll probably get the feeling I some crotchety old guy sitting in my rotting old chair waving my cane spouting about how, why in my day…

I don’t want to be like that.

So I feel it is time with me and my family moving to step down and let other people talk about what they find great in San Francisco. I’ll still miss places like Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, the Musee Mechanique, Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge, hell, I’m going to really miss the view out my living room window [see right] but it’s time for a new adventure for me. My family and I will be relocating to Western Massachusetts where the wife is from and her family lives, somewhere probably around Northampton, MA. Northampton actually has a feeling like San Francisco used to have — vibrant thriving arts and music community, an affordable food and beer culture, lots of historic places to see and things to do, but it’s got it’s own New England vibe as well. With great schools and lots of space.

I’ll be continuing on for awhile chronicling the move for all of you so you can keep up with what it’s like to move across country and leave San Francisco behind. You’ll all get to laugh at me when I walk out into that thing called snow that we’ve heard about in San Francisco, but on the upside everyone has heating and air conditioning back there which you can’t say about San Francisco.

Right now the house is a mess as we pack up things and get rid of stuff we aren’t going to take back east with us, which is most of what we own. Selling a house in San Francisco and moving pretty much anywhere else is kind of like winning the lottery since for what we’ll get for the house here we’ll probably be able to buy a nicer larger house on a bit of land as well as a couple of multi-unit rental properties for income. It’s kind of weird that we can’t afford to replace an old refrigerator here, but if we sell the house we can afford to buy a newly built house with all new appliances plus we’ll be the man that we’re working for there. To a lot of you it may not seem like we’re moving up in the world, but to be honest, I’d rather be rich somewhere else than poor in San Francisco. This is going to be a whole new adventure for me and my family and I’m hoping you’ll look forward to what I find to share with you. In case you know nothing about Northampton, MA then here’s a little video to tell you a bit more.

People leaving San Francisco? Fine my me.

I read Carl Nolte’s article on sfgate.com about people who have left San Francisco because of fog, high crime, fog, change and fog. These people obviously don’t get San Francisco. Did they fly in from Corpus Christi on one of our few sunny days and then moved in to experience the fog and thought they were a part of a bait and switch?

I don’t think so. My mother was lucky enough to start to go blind and then die before she really got to see the changes in San Francisco. I took her down by AT&T park a few years ago and she couldn’t believe that people wanted to live there. I agreed, but for a different reason, the price of housing down there. Change happens. I was looking at pictures today of the Sunset District in the 40’s and what I saw were mounds of sand everywhere. Today, you don’t see that. That last bit of inland sand dunes were changed into a soccer field years ago.

What doesn’t change is the fog. Once touted to have medical benefits by doctors they may be right. My father smoked a pack of non-filtered cigarettes a day and drank a 12 pack of beer and lived to be 83 — longer than the current expected life span of a man. Some parts of SF have less fog than others, but they usually have overcast weather at least. I was sitting on the deck of my employer yesterday in Mill Valley looking back on San Francisco. What I saw was a wall of white really, no skyline or anything. It wasn’t until 6pm that the fog started to move over the hills in Mill Valley and I got a mild feel of being in San Francisco.

Now out in the Sunset District we have fog on a daily basis. The kind of fog they made in the movies for all those horror films where you couldn’t see 20 feet in front of you. I experienced that full on during my drive home yesterday. After exiting the Waldo tunnel at around 60 mph I had to hit the brakes because the cars around me were fading out with ten feet. Once I got across the bridge and away from the inlet of the bay the fog was pretty much gone. The reality is that the fog here isn’t as bad as in other places in California where you get what they call tule fog that’s thick and to the ground and you really can’t see five feet in front of you. My Uncle Al used to talk about a trip up to the country where he’d have to get out in front of the car with a lantern so the car could follow him. THAT is fog.

I like fog. It’s kind of an insulating blanket that keeps in some heat, but not a lot of heat. It’s makes us have to use sunglasses less than other cities and if you’re a goth you look better in San Francisco than in say, Honolulu [yes, I have seen Hawaiian goths and they look pretty funny].

I like the fact that I don’t have to hop in my car to get to the corner store or grocery store or if I do get into my car I can eat food from at least 30 different countries within five minutes. I like the fact that when I call 911 I’ve got a fire station two blocks away and a police station a quarter mile away. Response is fast. In Mill Valley I looked on a map and couldn’t find a police or fire station within a five mile radius. When my wife went into labor in the middle of the night we were at the hospital within ten minutes and didn’t need to use a freeway to get there.

The crime rate is localized to a couple of areas of the city. Out here in the Sunset there’s an occasional robbery or car theft, but most are pot grow houses. It’s really not so bad here and I live having the close amenities and weather predictable. For the people who don’t like it here, try a year in say, Phoenix or Houston, then tell me how much you hated it here.