Stay Away From The Beach…For Now

Great HighwayI wrote about the makeover Great Highway was going to get a few months ago and I’m glad, in a way that it’s finally started. That being said, the beach is not the best place to go right now.

My wife [hear after known as wife because she doesn’t like public attention like I do] and I like to shop at the beach Safeway because it’s bigger and the lines are smaller. We took our once a week trip out there as opposed to our trips to the worst Safeway in San Francisco, but we were in for a rude awakening this day.

Construction workers were everywhere. The road was torn up all over the place and our usual trip of driving out Lincoln Way and making a right had to be re-routed due to the construction. On the upside, there are a lot of construction workers there so that means that the job will usually be quick. The down side is that it’s not a pleasant place to be right now which is a bit of a shame with the warm weather starting to grace our coastline and giving us sunnier days [side note: wife hates sunnier days. I think she was given up for adoption by a young Viking girl because the foggier and more unpleasant it is the happier she is.]

Go to the beach he said. You'll love it he said....

Right now if you need to cross the park down by the beach do it at 45th and Lincoln Way and drive through to 43rd and Fulton. It will be a much easier drive for you than having to go all the way to the end and then having to snake around the west end until you can find the exit at 47th and Fulton.  Just give the workers some time to finish off the job they’ve started and I’m hoping it’ll become a nicer place.

All this being said, I am hoping that this makeover will bring back a little of the beach area we once had. You have to be a very stalwart type of person to love Ocean Beach, but there was no reason for it to be left as a Russian industrial park looking place. I would like to see some food trucks out here on weekends and it would be nice if there was a way to have some craftspeople to set up shop on the large walkway on the sunny days that we do get out here. The first thing that needs to happen is a good marketing game played by the city to make people want to come out here. It’s a great place to relax and watch the surfers if you’re not going to surf yourself.

Great Highway Finally Gets A Makeover

Great HighwayWell, I wasn’t the first to this story, so I’ll give credit where credit is due to my friends at Ocean Beach Bulletin.  Our beach is different than most other beaches. Just about anywhere else beach front property is expensive and in high demand. In San Francisco, it’s the place where they put a lot of low income Section 8 housing.

You have to be born and raised here to find anything fun at Ocean Beach except on the few warm days we get out there when the beach is packed. It can be so nasty out there some days that I’d have to say it’s worse than Coney Island in December. It was so disliked at one point in 1980 that a group of condos were built on the remains of Playland at the Beach and nobody wanted them. I could see the value in the future and when they’re were trying to dump a four bedroom condo with an HOA of $25/month on people for $13k I wanted to use an early inheritance from an Aunt to purchase one. While my parents didn’t like the idea, they would now if they saw that they are selling for over $500k.

The Great Highway itself is kind of a mess. I’ve written letter upon letter that they need to do something out there. When I used to live closer to the beach and had to cross over from the Sunset to Richmond to do my grocery shopping I’m sure that’s part of the reason my car’s wheels needed re-alignment every six months. The asphalt was garbage and there were potholes everywhere. With the passing of Playland at the Beach there was only the Beach Chalet and Safeway to go for shopping out there.

I’ve been using social media to try and get some food trucks out there on nice days. They wouldn’t really compete with the Beach Chalet and give visitors more choices. They could use a little something more out there to bring people out to the beach, but you also need nice roads with median lines you can actually see.

The part of the Great Highway that runs from Lincoln Blvd to Sloat also needs work especially to keep some of the sand off the road which closes it down frequently. I read that they’re planting a new median, but some more ice plant on the ocean side might help a bit as well. Work begins this week so keep an eye out if you drive around that area.

While I can’t take credit for it at least they’ll finally be doing something to get the place to look nicer. The redo will run from the Point Lobos parking lot where the Lands End Lookout is to Sloat Blvd and Great Highway. I’d really like to see some more added to the beach area to bring people out there. Now that we’re having climate change around the world we’re having less nasty days and more nice days, but the wind on the beach is still a bitch.

The Streets of San Francisco

Yes, it’s time for a rant again. San Francisco streets need lots of work. We aren’t back east where there’s lots of snow so they don’t need to update the roads as much here, but the street outside my house was last repaved in the early 70’s or maybe even the late 60’s. We have more potholes than pot dispensaries and those white circles spray painted around the smaller potholes are done by the SF Bike Coalition to keep bikers from being thrown into on coming traffic.

I am really beginning to hate driving in San Francisco. It isn’t pleasant and every bump in the road is making my teeth rattle. Giving that I also live in the Sunset district where the streets were built on sand makes roads shift up and down just to give you a bumpier ride. Heavily trafficked roads are the worst because they can’t always shut them down because of congestion and when they do getting anywhere seems impossible.

I drove in to my first day of work yesterday and had my nerves rattled pretty bad by all the potholes I hit along the way let alone the fix it bits that made my car bounce up and down. At time I thought my shocks might need adjusting, but since my car only has 44k on it the shocks should be fine. All the bumps do cause your wheels to need to be realigned every year or so unlike in other cities where they have smoother roads.

If you drive to Daly City just a few minutes from where I live the roads are like glass. You have to work hard to find a rough patch there, but in San Francisco just driving the speed limit makes you feel like your car is going to fall apart. Speaking of which I’ve had cars that have lost nuts and bolts because of how rattling the streets can be.

So please Mayor Ed Lee, lets do something to make the streets safer to drive on instead of having cops pull people over for driving 32mph in a 25mph zone.

Why when I was your age…

Yes, I do believe the years are beginning to catch up with me so I decided to take a look back today on what it was like growing up in San Francisco back in the 60’s so let’s all jump in the wayback machine and take a look back at the good ole days. This won’t be the most politically correct article I’ve written, but back in my youth the phrase politically correct didn’t exist.

First. When I was a kid we still had rotary phones and we didn’t have to dial a 1 before calling long distance because hardly anyone ever made a call out of the US. It was rare that you made a call outside the state let alone the country.

NASA’s computer system had less power than your smartphone of today yet they were able to send a man to the moon. Today we throw birds at pigs with our computing power.

We knew who our neighbors were. When my Mom died and the local firefighters came to our house it turned out that one of them was a friend from way back when and he took my mind off things by us pointing at the houses up and down the block and naming who used to live in all the houses. Because of this we always had someone to turn to in time of need. If there was a problem in your house you could always turn to your neighbors to help you out.

Sand, it was everywhere. When my parents bought the house in 1954 their backyard was nothing but sand. My Dad used to toss their dog over the back fence and let it run around in the sand dunes behind our back fence. The only reason we have a garden today was because my Dad used to cart in bags of dirt during trips outside the city and dug out the sand and through it over the back fence and replaced it with dirt. He and our next door neighbor got together and even terraced both our back yards into four levels with each area having a different purpose. The only sand that remained was in a bricked in sandbox that was made for me until they realized that the local cats that were allowed outside were using it as their own luxury catbox.

Because of the sand if you lived below Sunset boulevard and didn’t put your car in the garage every night that and the salt air would turn your car into a rust bucket in under five years. Most of the cars down by great highway were rusted out hulks that you probably wouldn’t even believe could be driven, but they were.

If you came from anywhere South of California you were Mexican. We didn’t bother thinking about the other countries even though most of my Mexican friends weren’t from Mexico, but usually Central America. Also back then Latino’s were classified as White, Spanish surname. We didn’t use the term Caucasian which I think started in the 70’s. We did have much more ethnic diversity back then as there were kids I went to school with that were first generation from Ireland, Germany, France, England, India, Japan, China, Italy, Sweden, etc. Sure a lot of them fell under the White category, but there were still many cultural differences.

To quote Herb Caen, Remember when spaghetti was ethnic food? Yes, Italian food wasn’t mainstream and neither was Japanese or Chinese food. I remember when my family was a bit down on their luck we would eat pesto regularly because it was cheap to make and all the other kids would hear of this green sauce you’d put on spaghetti [which was pretty much what any kind of pasta was called] and would they would say, ewww, gross. Now some fast food restaurants use pesto like it was ketchup. Most of the Japanese or Chinese food you would buy back then wasn’t really from the country, but adapted by immigrants from American ingredients. Oh, and back when I was a kid, Japanese restaurants were owned and run by Japanese people. I ordered some food from a Japanese restaurant locally and said arigato when I got my food and the waitress said, huh? You’d never hear that if you said gracias at a burrito joint.

Our playground back then were filled with sharp redwood tanbark chunks and had a few hard metal play structures. Nothing soft and bouncy like you have today and we didn’t have to wear helmets when we rode our bikes. I still have scars to show from my playground and bike riding days to prove it.

Change will always happen. I’m not saying it was better back then, but we didn’t think as much as we do today. Maybe it’s because our parents were all drunks because back then you had cocktails before dinner, an after dinner drink or three and of course there was the night cap before you went to bed. In order to be labeled an alcoholic you had to drink a whole lot. I have to say though that back then at least Harvey Milk wasn’t as gay as the movie Twilight.