I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I moved there in 1988 and left in 2003. I lived up in Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I loved it. The combination of rural Marin County and cosmopolitan San Francisco was hard to beat. Hike a waterfall on Mt. Tam during the day and then go to out to the theater and dinner that night. What a life. I thought San Francisco was the best city in the world. And, at the time, it probably was. The lifestyle and cultural diversity were intoxicating with a new discovery always a block away. The city always looked and felt pristine. But that was 10 years ago.
I recently went back for a visit for the first time in 10 years and I was a bit disappointed. The city looked like it could use a coat of paint. I thought I would leave this trip wishing I still lived there, but I didn’t. Things seemed more run down than I remembered. Even places like Union Square. The average person you met on the street seemed more refined and well groomed 10 years ago. I felt like the dirty, crusty-ness of the Haight has exploded beyond the district’s boundaries and was taking over the rest of the city. Areas of San Francisco even had an unsafe, ghetto look and feel like Oakland. I am not talking about the Tenderloin here, I am referring to streets that used to be reasonably nice that are now run-down with abandoned buildings and homeless vagrants loitering all over the place aggressively panhandling. Places that were doing vibrant commerce 10 years ago are now nearly empty. Cannery Row and Ghiradelli Square both were bustling with shops and restaurants when I left 10 years ago and now are nearly empty and vacant.
It is clear San Francisco is in decline. I used to live in New Orleans and thought they two cities were similar with the Victorian architecture with the big differences being the overall natural beauty inherent to the Bay Area that few areas can match, AND San Francisco was a city that was well maintained. New Orleans has a run down look and feel. Like the city doesn’t have enough funding to maintain itself. San Francisco always presented like a city that was very well-managed. But now it looks like San Francisco might be drifting towards becoming New Orleans West. What a shame.