New Yorkers: Look to San Fran for Inspiration

That’s what urbanist Joel Kotkin, author of The City: A Global History, suggests in the NY Observer. We might want to look, or look up to, San Francisco for its survivalist instincts and a model of “what we could evolve into.” Here’s more:

You have to remember there’s a huge group of people in San Francisco who bought their homes when they were affordable. Then there’s a population [that’s] there for the San Francisco experience. Think of the country—there’s this country and then there’s these giant theme parks; and one is New York and one is San Francisco. … You go there; it’s a phase of your life. You live there for five years, 10 years. But then most people either don’t do well enough to stay, or get tired of it at some point and leave.

Hm. Is that what will happen?

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  • Funny you should say all that cause that’s exactly what happened to me!!!

  • Are you kidding me?

    What about all the people who grew up in San Francisco and couldn’t afford to stay after college? I would have loved to make my life in the city I was raised in but I couldn’t figure out how to afford it and since my siblings had already moved back in with my parents there wasn’t a lot of room for me to do likewise.

  • Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

  • New Yorker eventually wind up in Vermont. San Franciscans wind up in Oregon.

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 25 years in San francisco. It’s got a very “small town” vibe to it compared to NYC. That doesn’t necessarily make it worse, just a lot different. The two cities share a common problem when it comes to real estate bomms & busts…NYC is largely dependent upon the financial industry and SF largely on the technology firms. Different pots, same fires.

  • SF is pretty small, and is only about 2 or 3 times larger than Manhattan. We can compare SF to Manhattan, but not the entirety of New York City.

  • There are also fewer jobs in San Francisco proper. Commuting via mass transit from SF to Silicon Valley is problematic, to say the least, and living with a car in SF isn’t a very good option either.

  • But living “in” a car is probaly easier in SF!!! Actually living with a car in SF is far less costly than in Manhattan…perhaps equivalent to Brooklyn. Insurance rates are lower.

  • I know one thing…I’ve never seen more homeless people ANYWHERE than in San Francisco, and I’m a Brooklyn native. A bunch literally converged on me and a friend in a parking lot once. They are just all over downtown. That said, it’s a beautiful city and one of my PR colleagues has just made the move there from Manhattan.

  • ENY is right. SF is like NYC in the eighties when it comes to homeless. All over Union Square and the whole downtown/business district. We could now open it up for a political discussion on that matter…..

  • i was born north of oakland and used to go to chinatown as a little kid. The BART kinda sucks and most of the population of the Bay Area live outside of SF. Its a weird place to live.

  • Too funny, that was me, I lasted 5 years in SF. You know what I missed? Besides people/family? Bricks, seasons, warm summers. Otherwise, it was a stellar place to live.

    Too true ENY – Polk Street was a catch all for the homeless – it was pretty rough, so was down by City Center. Mid-late 80s before they decided to try to ‘hide’ the homeless. [expletives deleted].

    Poley is right, SF is actually smaller than Brooklyn. (Just, but still smaller – I may still have a map that showed the land mass as an overlay.)

    Say…CobbleHilller – will you be attending the soiree?

  • Wouldn’t you rather be homeless in SF than NYC? If I’m going to live outdoors, I’d opt for the milder climate.

  • i think the guy is saying that’s already what happens. some people come to big cities for some phase of their lives, and then they leave. the observer interview is much less interesting than the article it refers to.

  • this kinda stuff has been happening for 100 years.

  • I think it’s somewhat true, but changing. I think people used to come to NYC as a “phase” but since it’s been cleaned up, more people tend to stay. I also think a lot of people wanted to stay, but as this guy said, they simply couldn’t make it here.

    I also believe politics play a role. I see this country becoming more and more polarized. The liberals in this country are on the rise and have only a handful of cities where they would choose to live anymore. NYC is at the top of the list for many of these people. If I didn’t live in NYC, I would live in Portland, Oregon. Those are the ONLY two cities I would consider living in, and I’ve been to and traveled throughout all of the lower 48 states. 2 left to go, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be moving to Alaska or Hawaii…

  • i disagree – thanks for the link.

    11217 – I lived in Alaska for about six months some years ago. It falls, shall we say, into the “nice place to visit” category for me.

  • Homelessness in SF is chronic because of the cash benefits afforded the homeless. At one point, neighboring cities, in an effort to get rid of their own homeless population, were providing free bus rides to SF for the homeless.

    The Care not Cash proposition in 2002 was supposed to address this issue. I think it’s had some effect though I haven’t lived there for a long time.

    The point is that the high incidence of homelessness stems from benefits provided by an extremely liberal city government. It’s not an indicator of the city’s economic well-being.

  • SnarkSlope….could you see Russia from your house???

  • Theme park? WTF? That Joel Kotkin is some kind of idiot.

  • I was recently in Seattle and the number of homeless there is also staggering. Same in Portland. I had been before, but the problem in those two cities seems to be escalating, not improving…

  • atlanta also has a huge homeless population

  • You might be right, Santa, but I was just in Atlanta last week for business and saw very few homeless people.

    Certainly nothing on the scale of San Fran, Seattle, Portland, etc.

    It seemed more in line with East Coast cities like Baltimore, DC and New York.

  • Alas no, Dave, we didn’t have “breathtaking Russian views” from our place. But there was a small trailer park up the road. I remember one trailer in particular, the exterior of which was festooned with antlers and Christmas lights.

  • Both cities also have wild flocks of parrots, we both have that going for us as well.

  • 11217;

    Isn’t your statement somewhat contradictory? If liberals are on the rise, as you state, then why would you only consider living in NYC and Portland? What happens to liberals in other cities? Are they run over by SUV’s driven by rednecks?

  • two comments on SF.
    1) People in SF drive and most houses have garages
    2) houses like 50 Sterling Place (see above) are usually occupied by a single family and not sub-divided into apartments with windowless living rooms.

  • Liberals seem to be gravitating towards the coasts, was my point.

    My desire to live in NYC or Portland is not strictly liberal based, but those are the two cities I really love for many reasons. Being urban, heavily invested in Mass Transit, a thriving cultural scene, beautiful housing stock and gay friendliness are also things at the top of my list.

  • Yeah but coming to a city then leaving in 5-10 years is nothing new and has been happening in this city ad every other one for generations. Even if you come to new york and make it big, in 10 years you’re sick of the noise/crime/traffic/rents/negative-city-issue-of-the-year and want to raise a family or whatever and move out. And while your doing that new people are taking your place in the city. What is the point of this article? Does the writer suggest the population will magically return to the ‘old timey’ new york locals all the natives pine for?