Signing-Off

June 2, 2018

I’m overdue to sign-off, at least on weighing-in on Tenderloin matters.  I don’t live in the TL anymore.  I lived in the TL for five years and worked there for six, but I’m not in the hood everyday like before.

I spent most of 2017 traveling. Working with nonprofits in red state USA. Witnessing and learning about a different kind of poverty, much of it rural.  I also visited great world port cities; San Francisco could be one if it ever decides to join the rest of the world.  Saw a refugee camp in Italy, cleaner and more dignified than many of the streets in the Tenderloin/Mid-Market.  Much cleaner in fact.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
Gustave Flaubert

I also caught up on some reading.  Years ago a fellow Turk & Taylor 21 Club bar patron gave me a copy of Richard DeLeon’s “Left Coast City: Progressive Politics in San Francisco, 1975-1991.”  I finally got around to reading it.  I was astonished to read of the affordable housing “crisis” in 1980s and 1990s, and mayoral candidates pledging to solve the homeless “crisis.”

The affordable housing “crisis.”  The homeless “crisis.” Circa 1980s/1990s.  Makes me wonder about our current use of the word “crisis.”  Maybe we should substitute “concern” for “crisis,” given our fairly passive response to both over the years, continuing to this day.  It reminds me of my friends at Hospitality House settling for perennial “add backs.”

The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand San Francisco’s extreme bipolar dynamic of pro-growth vs. anti-growth forces, a remarkably simplistic bifurcation of vulgar downtown capitalist interests vs enlightened progressives that remains prominent to this day.  A good argument can be made that both groups have caused significant damage to the city and its people.  Given that the progressive, anti-growth contingent have held sway for the past few decades, they arguably should get the lion’s share of credit for our failure to respond to housing demand and homelessness.

I moved out of the TL after the Magic Theatre and the 950 Market Street project successfully made it through the city’s affordable housing killing entitlement process. The city’s “local control” project approval process was a circus that allowed NIMBY, anti-children and xenophobic spokespersons to run amok.

A few more essays to wrap it up.  I meander, and leave you mostly with questions. And some pictures for fun.  I start with square one: home.