Jason Evanish’s post "25 Things I wish I knew before moving to San Francisco" has gotten a lot of traffic, and it’s a great, if a bit earnest, “newbie’s” view of SF. I prefer a little more “bite” and usually recommend Drew Hoolhort’s "Moving to San Francisco" for a sharper look. (EDIT: An SF native just posted a much more grounded list). Together, both pieces are a great guide for recent immigrants, and they got me thinking… with only a few weeks left in my 10+ year San Francisco residency before I decamp to Manhattan, rather than write about what I’ll miss, and there’s plenty I will, I thought I’d give the Interwebz a bit of balance and contribute a piece about what I’ll be happy to leave behind.
I give you: Four San Francisco Things I Won’t Miss
- Gagging on the smell of raw sewage and urine. Urine. Everywhere urine. Rivers of it streaming along sidewalks from the corners of buildings. The stench of every underground passage, stair well, BART/MUNI escalator and elevator (oy, the MUNI elevators). Mix in aggressive low flow toilet mandates, water conservation, a 100 year old combined sewer and storm drain system, and you get a pervasive “sludge” backup all over the city, with sewer gas wafting from nearly every street grate. The city is, in effect, a giant backed up toilet.
- Decaying physical infrastructure. Heaps of trash, peeling paint, tagging and graffiti, broken and vandalized infrastructure, weedy unmowed grass, dead trees, cracked and uneven sidewalks… as fast as something is fixed or replaced: it’s completely trashed. Apart from a few exceptionally rich areas with completely private maintenance, monitoring and security, any part of the city that is covered by public services is a depressing eyesore. With very few exceptions, the following story is repeated ad nauseum:
- Bond issue passed (i.e. money is borrowed)
- Years of studies and “community input” complete
- Politicians assemble for ceremonial ground breaking
- Construction of new improved public space
- Politicians assemble for ceremonial opening
- Less than 24 hours after the opening festivities, the new public space is a broken trash heap, with no budget or plan for security, maintenance or anyone who gives two shits.
- A laughably dysfunctional government. The stories of corruption, cronyism, and incompetence are legion. Here’s a classic piece, and another, but these stories are everywhere you look. In all my years here, I’ve never once met anyone who knew or cared about this. Most residents can’t name their supervisor, nor do they vote in local elections. It’s the government the citizens of San Francisco elect and deserve.
- MUNI is a joke. A desperately unfunny joke. Just Google “MUNI sucks” for an avalanche. Here’s a nice summary.
Honestly, there’s probably more than four, but I don’t want to get too down on my fair city. It was a great ride here, and while the city drives me crazy, I do love it.
She’s an aging prostitute, who smoked and drank a bit too much, whose dress is a bit tatty, but she does know how to have a good time, and she taught me a lot.
Farewell SF. It’s time to move on. I love you. I hate you. I will miss you.