Friday, June 05, 2009

San Francisco

I really REALLY wouldn't want to live there. And this story captures well many of the reasons why.



PG said...

This seems like typical city bureaucrat behavior and not peculiar to San Francisco. Indeed, the cheery tolerance of lots of homeless people in the tourist/ business centers of town certainly makes it better than, say, Giuliani-era NYC.

Unknown said...

I agree with PG.

While the story holds up the problems with a city bureaucrat, it says little in particular about a specific city.

As someone who was raised in California and lived there until some twenty years ago when I left to serve my first parish, and have not lived there since; I follow the fortunes of my old state and particularly its two great cities.

And things are not good out in the true West.

But even in decline, San Francisco remains one of the centers of the universe: a great city, a world city...

Anonymous said...

Ditto P.G. Big city bureaucracy is pretty much the same everywhere. There are exceptions, of course. Especially where penny ante corruption is the rule of the day. There are places where the shoe shine guy would be cut some slack in exchange for, say a sawbuck every week and a free shine. In fact that kind of corruption is the standard in much of the world. Its defenders argue that it allows for a humane give-and-take between citizen and government that cuts through bull shit in a way advantageous to both. It kind of depends on what you want. Wasn’t it Voltaire who said “The majesty of the law is that it prohibits both the rich man and the poor from sleeping under the bridge.”

Diggitt said...

I agree with PG and the rest of you. I've lived in SF, NY, London, and Boston, and now I am an elected official in the county north of NYC, and bureaucrats are bureaucrats the world over.

I didn't choose SF for myself, i was following some guy, and that may color my feelings. I lived there 2+ years and after leaving, didn't go back for 16 more years. A friend of mine in those years, characterized several big cities this way:
NYC is where everyone has more money than you, DC is where everyone has more power than you, Boston is where everyone has a pricier degree than you, London is where everyone goes to better restaurants than you do, SF is where everyone has more sex than you do. All of them ring true to me!

I felt that SF was one of the most status-conscious places I ever encountered, and about as class-conscious as the gang that hangs around the English royals. Ick.

Chalicechick said...

I totally get that bureaucrats are out to screw you everywhere, said the almost Washingtonian who is in the city three or four days a week.

My beef is nicely illustrated by PG's NYC comparison.

Giuliani was out to screw the poor and made only the slightest arguments to the contrary for the sake of public appearances.

San Francisco makes so many claims of being friendly to the homeless, then they go and do things like this.

Compounding the irony, it's the wealthy (or at least with a hundred bucks to spare) members of the ruling classes whom one hears hippies bitching about who actually help the guy.


Robin Edgar said...

I take note of the fact that CC's post indicates a STRONG aversion to living in San Francisco, and that the story she linked to is but one of *many* reasons why she would not want to live in San Francisco. So what are all the other reasons CC?

Chalicechick said...

1. They have fucktons of Nanny Statist laws and the sorts of people who vote them in.

2. It's full of hippies

3. It's far from people I care about.

4. It's full of hippies.

5. I'm intensely nervous about walking anywhere with my eyes closed due to an incident on that stupid bridge.

6. It's full of hippies.

7. It never snows. Or almost never.

8. It's full of hippies.

9. It would be that much harder to convince my husband to cut his hair.

10. It's full of hippies.

11. Earthquakes

12. It's full of hippies.

13. Most of the appeal of San Francisco that I can see (cool restaurants, interesting architecture, lots of cultural opportunities) can be found many places where we could afford to buy a house.

14. It's full of hippies.

15. I like political diversity, too.

16. It's full of hippies.

17. In DC, if somebody's having more sex than you, they are at least unlikely to talk about it.

18. It's full of hippies.

19. I do like to drive and the lack of parking and the tons of hills make driving both annoying and not particularly safe.

20. Thanks to things like proposition 8, which seemed to have passed pretty much entirely because nobody wanted to leave San Francisco to campaign against it, the hippies are all pissed-off. Pissed-off hippies are the most annoying kind.

Robin Edgar said...

Thanks for filling me in on that CC.

Let me know if you ever want to take command of Rev. Dr Eric Theodore Cartman III's new and improved Hippie Drill. :-)

Chalicechick said...

Sorry, IMHO, SouthPark hasn't been funny since I was in college.


Diggitt said...

I forgot about Prop 13, which affected the whole state, not just SF, but which created the irony that all those rich hippies send their kids to private school. I don't know a soul in any California city who didn't.

SF was already a classbound city and until Prop 13 is repealed and another generation passes, it will stay that way.

When I was an AmHist student, we learned that initiative, referendum, and recall were the three marks of advancing democracy that "prove" the Turner thesis. But Prop 13 and Prop 8 together kinda shake one's faith in the wisdom of the people.

Anonymous said...


CC seems locked in a time warp. And mighty pissed of about it, too.

As a former hippie--about 40 years ago--maybe I should take offense. I don't get the impression CC will pardon long ago excess or regard the current decrepit user of the body as deserving any more respect than the long gone thinner and hairier model.

Chalicechick said...

Here's the full accounting of my issues with hippies.


Anonymous said...


I don’t want to get into one of those long, useless back-and-fourths. I promise that not mater what, I will here after shut up on this thread. I read with interest your link to your old post. I vaguely remember seeing it when it was new. I note that your number one objection to hippies, urgent enough to be printed in all caps, was SELF RIGHTEOUNESS.

Surely CC has enough self-awareness to realize that when it comes to self righteousness, this is the classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Chalicechick said...

If by self-righteous, you mean I'm often confident that I'm correct, yes. I do occaisionally write about something because I'm trying to figure it out, but mostly I don't write about things that I haven't thought about and to some degree researched.

If by self-righteous, you mean that I'm automatically dismissive of the opinions of others without hearing them out or that I decide that whole groups of people such as "the medical establishment" don't know what they are talking about categorically, then I do deny that.

People (even people one might think of as hippies) can and have gotten both corrections and changed opinions out of me here by either presenting facts I was unaware of or making a case that made more sense to me than my previous opinion. I try to be public about that when it happens, to the degree that I'm changing my mind. (If I'm changing my mind about a major opinion I wrote in a post, I put it in a post. If I'm changing my mind about something flip I dashed off in a comment, I usually respond in a comment.)

Indeed, if I took the position common to the self-righteous that no reasonable person could disagree with me, then there would be no better cure than a few months of writing with my readers as an audience. They are a pretty sharp bunch.


PG said...

"San Francisco makes so many claims of being friendly to the homeless, then they go and do things like this."

They are friendly to the homeless. They're just not friendly to start-up small businesses, nor do they make what may seem like common-sense exceptions to what is a reasonable general rule (as a frequently-late speed-walker living in NYC, I say it sucks when people can get away with setting up carts all over the sidewalks -- requiring people to obtain and pay for permits keeps that in check). Unless this is what your nanny-state comment was supposed to address, neither you nor the guy you linked seems to be saying that the general rule is wrong, only that it should not be applied to this specific guy because this specific guy is bootstrapping his way out of homelessness.

Chalicechick said...

A. I tend to think that the whole "read about the homeless guy in the paper, then go to extra lengths to track him down" element speaks to an overzealousness that belies the "everybody gets treated the same" point.

If a regular cop had come upon the guy while walking his beat and written him a ticket for not having the permit, I wouldn't complain even though he would likely be out slightly more money. But it sure sounds like this person kinda hunted the guy down, and the fact that the person who came to tell him he needed the license had no idea how to even get the license speaks to the "more interested in taking his money than helping him follow the law" aspect.

B. I would think that a city that was truly trying to help the homeless would have either a sliding scale or a willingness to accept payments on a quarterly basis or a city program for homeless folks in similar situations where they could get help with the permits or something to make things a little easier on people who are looking to have one of the few legal jobs that homeless folks can reliably set themselves up in. (And I'm sure the "homeless guy doesn't have ID or enough paperwork to get one" thing happens all the time and that irritates me because it's the sort of problem that anyone with an internet connection, a credit card and a stable address can handle for fifty bucks or so but is a major issue for a homeless guy with no debit card.)

kimc said...

It is true that it rarely snows in San Francisco. (once every 20 years on average, though it was two years in a row and 40 years before that last time around.) Many of us consider that to be an advantage.
There hasn't been much of an earthquake centered in San Francisco since 1906, unless you count the one in 1957, and I'm not sure that was centered in SF; it certainly wasn't the San Andreas Fault, since that hasn't moved since 1906. It is, however, overdue for another big one, as it usually moves every 85 to a hundred years....
Driving on the hills of San Francisco is an adventure, especially with a stick shift. People come from miles around to teach that skill in The City.

Robin Edgar said...

For the record I very much enjoyed San Francisco and the Bay Area when I spent the better part of a month there in the summer of 2006 and would be quite happy to live there. AFAIAC San Francisco is North America's nicest city *after* Montreal. :-)

PG said...

From what I understand, SF tries to help homeless people qua homeless people. It makes no effort to help homeless people qua struggling small businessmen. And the Heartless Bureaucrat didn't fine him or send the cops after him to prevent his shoe-shining -- he had a huge couple of days of shoe-shining after the story came out, including a visit from the head of the relevant Heartless Bureaucracy. When there are no penalties for violating the rule, I just don't see that as Javert-type overzealousness.