Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Let's Gentrify Like it's 1998!

As I sat atop the hill at Dolores Park the other day a feeling of dread came upon me. I couldn't help but feel that the beautiful city we live in is changing in an almost astronomical speed.

We here at the Painted Ground rarely make direct social commentaries. Instead, we often let others speak for us. Sort of social commentary by proxy, if you will. Perhaps it's safer that way.

Unfortunately, as someone who loves San Francisco, I can't ignore what has been happening. Forgive me for my direct commentaries.

Sitting atop the hill at Dolores Park, one cannot ignore the breathtaking view of downtown San Francisco. I've lived in this city for several years now. Every time I'm riding the J Church or just happen to be at the park, I make a point of looking out at the cityscape. In one way, it provides a setting for me. It reminds me of where I am and where I've come from. It also is a representation of my adopted home. It brings me joy.

In the last year and a half, we have all been witness to the rising of the massive elephant in the room. It's there and we no longer can ignore it. While there is a sense of pride that it brings to this city (being the tallest all-residential tower west of the Mississippi), I can't help but think that it will bring on the beginning of massive change in our home.

These growing pains are starting to be felt exponentially in the Mission, where a temporary victory was won following the dot-com bubble burst. There are numerous projects looming overhead, threatening to finish off what was halted several years ago.

Yes, as a once-Midwesterner I can see the benefits of a 24-Hour Walgreen's. Yet, I can't help but think that those living above this Walgreen's will not be welcome in the Mission. All the chanting of "Si Se Puede!" will not prevent them from coming, unfortunately. These people who can afford luxury condos will most likely have the most impact on the neighborhood. I can guarantee that the daylaborers waiting outside the former paint store will not be allowed to go anywhere near this building. Soon they will all but disappear from Cesar Chavez Street.

The Mission is starting to drastically change. The stores that have been there the longest have started to disappear. No longer do we have the uber-eccentric video store Leather Tongue. In its place is the place on Valencia Street to buy a $300 pair of jeans. La Casa del Libro also has departed for places unknown. I walked by the other day and noticed exercise equipment being set up inside. While I'm all for exercising (and have been known to do so from time to time) I just worry about who they are catering to considering the recent goings-on in San Francisco.

It's not just the Mission. This is being felt by many residents who just want affordable housing.

Two-thirds of the Painted Ground have decided that Portland, Oregon is their new home. Affordability was a major factor in their decisions. Apparantly so have many others from our fine city, causing an animosity from those who have called Portland their home for so many years. As the remaining third, I'm not sure if I want to follow in their footsteps. I sure as hell don't see the Sunset, the Richmond, or Daly City as viable options. I don't like fog every single day.

Perhaps New York City is the place for t.a.f.k.a.y.e.l.r.a. and family? There's more room out that way. Of course, affordability will also play a major factor.

I'll always love San Francisco and what it represents for me. I'm not sure how much longer we can ignore the fact that it's changing.

Pic courtesy of San Francisco, CA. In fact, it was found right in front of the aforementioned $300 jeans boutique.


ddt/pdx said...

Goodness, sir. That was quite the missive. Economics sucks, huh?

JM said...

There's always ice cream.