Why does San Francisco suck?
December 26, 2006 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Beyond the cost of living, earthquakes, and fog, what are the cons of living in San Francisco?

I don't have plans to move there, but San Fran has always seemed so utopian to me. It boggles my mind, and makes me insanely jealous, that people are able to live there without being homeless (although I hear there's a lot of that too).

Please help me mire my idealistic view of "the city" in grim reality so I can stop daydreaming about it all the time.
posted by bjork24 to Society & Culture (60 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The weather sucks.

It's provincial.

Housing is expensive.

The newspapers are awful.

Pubic transportation is useless for most of the population - BART is great where it serves, the MUNI is sort of slow and there seems to be a fatal bus accident every year.
posted by mzurer at 3:26 PM on December 26, 2006

The earthquakes (espcially) and the fog (sorta) aren't the factors you think.

This can be a very image conscious town, everyone seems to fit into some sort of clique. That being said, theres something for everyone.

Really you take out the cost of living it's pretty awesome.
posted by bitdamaged at 3:26 PM on December 26, 2006

Response by poster: The weather sucks.

I love cloudy overcast days. Once it starts getting about 80 degrees, it's too hot.
posted by bjork24 at 3:28 PM on December 26, 2006

ever see that South Park episode about "Smug"?

posted by quadrinary at 3:29 PM on December 26, 2006

Not just cloudy and overcast. Wet and cold.
posted by mzurer at 3:32 PM on December 26, 2006

Well, it's more about California generally, but what you're looking for is probably something like Joan Didion's Where I Was From.
posted by koeselitz at 3:33 PM on December 26, 2006

Public transportation within the city can, at times, be really really awful. The bus system is unreliable and, unlike places like NYC doesnt have the population to support easy cab rides or, unlike NYC or Boston, doesnt have a great subway system.

I'm kind of biased. I didnt just land here. I chose this city in 1992 as the best place to live based on politics, values, jobs, surrounding natural beauty etc. Its always had the best combination of these factors, to my mind.

The weather is not to everyone's liking. But (and I speak as someone who grew up in a sunny-year-round beach town in San Diego!) it never gets too cold (think East coast) or too hot. Its just that the average day is "mildly cold" Its also got micro-climates. If you really want sun, live on the eastern side of town - the fog usually makes it only halfway across the city.

You have to mention homelessness. For a city this size, we are swamped with homeless people. The shelters are full and I have to step over sleeping people on the street most morning when I get onto my Caltrain commute.
posted by vacapinta at 3:38 PM on December 26, 2006

Parking and noisy neighbors.
posted by free pie at 3:40 PM on December 26, 2006

Well, I managed to live there for a few months and it was pretty awesome. They were some of the best months of my life and I hope to make it back one day. But at the same time it can be pretty easy for those who live there to take the whole thing for granted and still be miserable.

Things that make it not the greatest place in the world: nightlife sucks compared to Manhattan or many European cities I have visited. There are many homeless downtown. Architecture, though charming, is stuck in the past. Many parts of the city are fairy-tale beautiful (steep hills, victorian houses, gardens and steps) but many parts are drab (1950s faux-Victorian houses, grid streets, low-rent restaurats and cheap shops). Driving sucks and parking is pure hell. And once the glitz and glamor has worn off, it is just another city and its citizens are subject to the daily trials and tribulations of life just like everyone else. There is a reason that 'utopia' literally means 'no place'.

Before living in San Francisco I lived in the suburbs of San Jose for a little while and I had some of the same feelings you were having - the place I was living in was boring and I wasn't happy and I thought if I could only move to San Francisco everything would be so much better. I was rather startled to find out, upon finally moving there, that most of my problems had followed me there. It was a classic case of 'grass is greener' syndrome. I was eventualy able to sort things out and once I did, I had a great time and fell in love with the city. But I also realized that I was placing too much importance in my surroundings and that I could have been happy even in a 'lesser' city.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:42 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's provincial.

There you go. "The City?" This induces snickers in the rest of the country.

Before I had ever been there, I always had the idea that it was a major city on the level of NYC or L.A. It's not, not even close. If you are a "big city" person, you will be disappointed.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:48 PM on December 26, 2006

I always had the idea that it was a major city on the level of NYC or L.A.

Hmm... you're standards of a major city seem a bit high
posted by bitdamaged at 3:56 PM on December 26, 2006

your != you're
posted by bitdamaged at 3:56 PM on December 26, 2006

Actually, bitdamaged, I found that proud San Franciscans considered the city on par not only with NYC and superior to LA, but on a level of significance with Paris, London, and Tokyo.
posted by mzurer at 3:58 PM on December 26, 2006

On the plus side, people in other countries often forgive you for being American if they discover you're from San Francisco.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:02 PM on December 26, 2006

it certainly is not a very walkable city.
posted by brandz at 4:08 PM on December 26, 2006

I have to disagree with that, brandz. It's a wonderful city to walk and bicycle in, just not in certain directions.
posted by mzurer at 4:09 PM on December 26, 2006

Heh. My sister traded San Francisco for L.A. about 10 years ago on the basis of what she felt was SF's unwarranted smugness and insularity, as well as the weather. Or, as she put it, "L.A. has sun and people who will at least pretend to be nice to you. San Francisco has neither." I have two ex-boyfriends who've lived in SF, and both have said much the same thing (one fled back to Chicago, and the other is considering it.)

As far as it being on par with major cities, I like San Francisco just fine to visit (some nice museums, lovely parks, great restaurants, cool bookstores, etc.), but seriously, on the basis of culture alone, you simply cannot compare it to major cities like Chicago or New York (much less Paris or Tokyo) with a straight face, no matter what any "proud San Franciscan" may claim.
posted by scody at 4:12 PM on December 26, 2006

I've heard that there are many homosexuals there.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:15 PM on December 26, 2006

I forgot about the homosexuals! Actually, that reminds me that as a single straight man, I did not have as great a time as the rest of the country seemed to think was the obvious outcome for my kind there, on account of the perception that I would be rare commodity.

It's very much a couples city. That may or may not be an issue for you though...
posted by mzurer at 4:19 PM on December 26, 2006

Crash_Davis (no Mr. for YOU) - the question asked for cons, not pro's. No worries...

Seveal have already mentioned the mass transit issues, both BART and taxi's - so consider yourself warned. Another thing to consider (if you have kids) is schooling - SF suffers from that LA problem of 'getting your pre-schooler lined up for the right kindergarten school.'
posted by matty at 4:25 PM on December 26, 2006

Too many dorks/hipsters/hippies. Not enough normal people.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:26 PM on December 26, 2006

Lived there for a year and would not consider going back to live. Provincial doesn't do it justice. Over priced, bad weather, corrupt politicians, and not so friendly people. The only good that came out of my year in SF was that I met one of my best friends while there.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:28 PM on December 26, 2006

Here's one it shares with NYC and LA: an incredible amount of disdain for the rest of the country. Even Chicago, Minneapolis and Austin are "flyover country" as far as they're concerned — and forget about smaller cities, the rural Midwest, Appalachia or the deep South, all of which San Franciscans regard as circles of hell they'll be sent to if they're bad. If you grew up away from the coasts and still have respect or affection for your hometown, prepare for reactions that range from baffled to withering.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:29 PM on December 26, 2006

There's a lot of trash on the street, parking is a nightmare, public transit is only good in certain areas, and a lot of restaurants close earlier than they ought.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:30 PM on December 26, 2006

nebulawindphone: which doesn't make sense to me, since very few people in the City actually come from the City. Or even the Bay Area.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:33 PM on December 26, 2006

Politicians running the city seem more concerned about their pet interests rather than actually getting things done to improve the lives of people in the city.
posted by gyc at 4:38 PM on December 26, 2006

Oh and:

There you go. "The City?" This induces snickers in the rest of the country.

It's called "the City" because it was the City to all the people living and working in the rural areas of Northern California over a century ago. The phrase isn't meant to mean anything to anyone else, like some sort of Chamber of Commerce declaration.

posted by oneirodynia at 4:39 PM on December 26, 2006

I love San Francisco, and it's my home town. What I recognize as its biggest downfall is the local political scene. Don't get me wrong, I'm a liberal -- an extreme liberal by most of the country's standards.

In San Francisco it seems like there are activist groups and advocates for every issue imaginable, and that much of the time nothing gets done because you can't please everybody. Many people seem to advocate that if you're not improving everyone's lot equally all the time, you shouldn't improve anything at all. It goes beyond PC and into parody.

On the other hand, we're generally a very silly group of black sheep who never met a sequin we didn't like.
posted by nadise at 4:40 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I also can't stand how people from Frisco can't stand people saying 'Frisco'. It's our own F word here.
posted by sammich at 4:43 PM on December 26, 2006

Here's one it shares with NYC and LA: an incredible amount of disdain for the rest of the country. Even Chicago, Minneapolis and Austin are "flyover country" as far as they're concerned

I won't speak for New Yorkers, but as for L.A.., I can tell you that you're flat-out wrong. Given that most of the people I know here come from the rest of the country (whether big cities or small towns) and still have significant numbers of friends and family elsewhere, I've found almost no "disdain for the rest of the country" here -- in fact, I found a little more of it, ironically enough, when I was living in Chicago. (And as to the contention that "even Chicago" is dismissed out of hand here is just nonsense -- easily half of the writers, actors, comedians, artists, and musicians I know here have some sort of connection to Chicago, and it's universally held in high regard.) The fact that we're all addicted to the SoCal weather should not be interpreted as "disdain," but rather simply an acquired intolerance for being cold.

posted by scody at 5:02 PM on December 26, 2006

SF is a little big city - one that you bike from edge to edge on fun weekend day... love it. crepes in the marina, tacos in the mission, naked sun bathing at stintson beach. jeez. hard to beat.
posted by specialk420 at 5:24 PM on December 26, 2006

nebulawindphone: which doesn't make sense to me, since very few people in the City actually come from the City. Or even the Bay Area.

Every city has both transplants and natives who are snobby, elitist, and in love with the city, or who are angry, who can't be satisfied, and who can't wait to leave. They're truly annoying. I think they just latch on to these things so they can have something to be negative about.

I like San Francisco a lot, but to answer the question, if I hate any things about SF, they include people who don't accept outside politics or lifestyles, the chilly weather, the traffic situation, and the high cost of living. On the other hand, SF has coffeeshops where you can get WiFi and beer!

On preview:

I agree with scody. The complaints directed towards Los Angeles from San Francisco, Chicago, and New York are so articulate and comprehensive.! Growing up an Angelena I never received training in kind. And what a silly way to spend the time when the beach is calling. ;)

posted by halonine at 5:38 PM on December 26, 2006

Lived there three years, during the dot-com boom. Really hated it. Expensive. Everyone networking, and working so much that friendships were hard to cement. Every daily task a hassle, from laundry to groceries. Public transpo stinking, scary, and often late. Arts organizations closing down everywhere, evicted because higher rents could be charged of start-ups. Poetry scene cliquey and rote. Bug-chasing scene in the Castro very creepy. Could never envision the day when I might again have a porch, a garden, and a part-time job.

I moved back to Buffalo and don't regret a moment.
posted by Riverine at 5:39 PM on December 26, 2006

There are thousands of people living on the streets of SF. Some of them are true hard luck cases, need a helping hand. Many are crazy, a few of them are dangerous. The good progressives who run SF have no idea what to do about the problem.
posted by Nelson at 5:50 PM on December 26, 2006

I think they just latch on to these things so they can have something to be negative about.

And this is truly the worst thing about San Francisco (outside the fact that it is hardly a city in the ways that count): intolerance of criticism and harshing people's mellows--it leads to smugness, flakiness, and loads of crap.
posted by dame at 5:54 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I moved here about three years ago for graduate school. I'm engaged now, and we don't really have anywhere to "go home" to, so it'll be San Francisco at least for the next few years.

Most of the major complaints about the city are, as far as I can tell, absurd. For example.

1. Earthquakes. Haven't felt a single one. As far as I can tell, unless it's a 1906-style earthquake (in which case we're all screwed), earthquakes are only exciting for people who've never seen a tornado.

2. Transportation. specialk420 wins. The whole city is a five-mile square; what is there to complain about? I walk everywhere that I go on a regular basis. When I need to get to the other side of the city, I just give myself some extra time and go wait for the bus.

3. Cost of living. My wife moved here from the Seattle area; I moved here from Omaha. For the combined price of our two crappy old studios, we now have a very livable two-bedroom. Yes, rent is a little high, but so are salaries. If you're not overly concerned with living in the right neighborhood (read: if you're not afraid of homeless and/or black people), you can get a fine apartment for a fair price.

Not that I don't have any complaints about the city. I would very much echo the above comments about SF's political obnoxiousness.

When I lived in the Midwest, I thought that all liberals were intelligent, well-read, conscientious people. This is because of where I lived: the only people doing the work of thinking against the majority were the smart people. Now I've seen the error of my ways.

There are some dumb liberals in San Francisco. Mmm boy, are there some dumb liberals in San Francisco.

nebulawindphone has hit the head on the nail. There are a lot of people in SF who are painfully ignorant to what's going on in the rest of the country. People who have no idea of the scenes going on in places like Austin, Omaha, Louisville, and think you're joking when you mention them. But, if you're coming here from New York, you're probably already used to that stuff, as this guy has aptly demonstrated.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:19 PM on December 26, 2006

I have to admit I dont understand the "not really a city" argument. San Francisco has one of the highest population densities in the US. Sure, its a tiny city but the boundaries are arbitrary - the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area is enormous and dense. Los Angeles only gets to be a city because it includes this collection of suburbs. Density is what counts.
posted by vacapinta at 6:39 PM on December 26, 2006

There are things to complain about anywhere. I picked SF because I love it here.

The weather's not great; it's a little chilly and extremely damp year round. Some places never really dry out, which means mold and allergies.

There are a lot of hills. If you're out of shape or have a physical disability, this can be awful.

The cab drivers are dangerously bad; as compared to NYC where their glamorous recklessness lends a thrilling frisson to cap off your evening, here they will just get into an accident with you.

There aren't that many really good restaurants, and the ones there are close early. In general the town rolls up the sidewalks at 10 PM.

The public transit isn't particularly great. In the city, there's MUNI: it's slow and confusing and never runs on time.

The streets are astonishingly ill-maintained. For a place that never freezes, there are far more potholes than you'd expect.

The political scene is ridiculous. Machine politicians run the city; the inhabitants wander about in a marijuana-addled mental fantasyland, and they say the most charmingly naive things during political conversations.

There are homeless drug addicts all over the place, leaving their needles and spoor where you are liable to step in it.

However, I undertook this exercise as a challenge, because I really do love it here. These things pale in comparison to how great it is to live here.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:44 PM on December 26, 2006

(...and let me just chime in to say that Boston's subway system is far from excellent: terminally late, always breaking down or diverted, outdated or undersized cars, etc. And don't EVEN start me on the buses...)
posted by mykescipark at 6:48 PM on December 26, 2006

The three major downsides:

(1)MUNI has become almost intolerable.
(2)The city is dirty (compared to Chicago, Paris, London, Vienna, NYC, but not so much to LA since LA isn't a city so much as a big flat monster suburb).
(3)Expensive housing. Don't plan on buying unless you make $250K a year, or $100K a year and like Ramen and fix 'em ups.

Other than that, it's my favorite place I've ever lived. You can roundly ignore the smug factor pretty damn quickly and find some wonderful people with laid back, down to earth attitudes. If you experienced the smug factor more than once, that was more your problem than the city's. That dirty bit is the one that bugs me more than anything else. Just consistently nasty all over the city except where rich people live of course. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 7:39 PM on December 26, 2006

I'm a transplant from Chicago suburbs and LA. Lived in the East Bay, "Silicon Valley" and The City itself. (Much prefer The City). I love it here, so I'm searching for problems.

The City:
- Lack of cabs
- Smells. Lots and lots of very bad smells
- Tourists crowding up the one trolley that goes to my work on the days my feet are sore
- They ruined Musee Mechanique when they moved it to Fisherman's Wharf
- No good arcades unless all you want is virtual bowling and DDR
- Neighborhoodism. Go barhopping in the marina dressed a little indie and hear "Who let in the Mission Trash?" Same goes for hitting Cama (or whatever bar's there now) still in work duds and being called out as a narc
- Every crowd's got a drug of choice, whether that's coke, speed or snooty microbrews and they're rarely cross tolerant.
- BART stops running at around midnight and bar time is 2. Which means you're either driving and parking (bad idea) or leaving earlier than everyone else

The area:
- No one's ever on fricken' time around here. To work meetings, to parties. I'm told I'm midwestern for showing up in the first hour a party is set
- The rich, sheltered tech kids with cash to burn and a sense of entitlement who can't understand why you can't go to Tahoe on a moment's notice
- Fry's is too far from SF
- The month before Burning Man. No one can do anything except sew costumes and build art cars, so there's nothing social going on.
- The month after Burning Man. No, I don't want to hear about how cool The Waffle was or your bad trip once again.
- Seems harder to make good, solid friendships. There's a sense of coolness that's hard to get through and everyone's work schedules are so loose and "dot commy" that coordinating anything social is a pain

I like the fog, I have reasonable rent for the amazing place we found, I don't notice the earthquakes, the homeless people aren't as aggresive as they are in, say, Champaign, IL and there's no TGI Friday's or Walmart within 20 minutes of the city.
posted by Gucky at 7:59 PM on December 26, 2006

Also, everyone wants to live here, so the jobs are harder to get. Sure, you could find a stint at a Redwood City cubicle farm, but then you'd have a killer commute to and from The City.
posted by Gucky at 8:02 PM on December 26, 2006

Love it here. I don't really understand the "smug" thing--haven't really run into that. Could someone provide examples?

The dismissiveness of "flyover country" I found to be much worse in the east coasters I ran into while in Chicago. I grew up in Minneapolis, so bicoastal snobbery has been a sore spot for me since I left, but I've found CAians to be much more accepting of--and often simply curious about--"the midwest" (they somehow still don't know that it's a bunch of states) than easterners.

One dislike would be the homogeneity of political opinions. The lack of diversity means that there is a lot of agreement when any issue comes up, which leads to a lot of opinions that have not been refined by the heat of argument, and a lack of understanding and recognition of what the other side has to offer. It feels uncomfortable to disagree here, although I think at least part of that feeling comes from some of my own long-held fears of confrontation.

Another dislike would be how long it takes to vote here. I believe there were propositions A-K in the SF ballot this November. And the length of the ballot often has something to do with just how much the city supervisors like to grandstand, as alluded to by other posters.
posted by epugachev at 10:36 PM on December 26, 2006

I was going to ask this exact question, because mythbusters is subliminal advertising for the SF area.

Could asavage chime in?
posted by phrontist at 12:10 AM on December 27, 2006

homeless people aren't as aggresive as they are in, say, Champaign, IL

Which one? The black guy with the speech impediment, or the dirty bearded white dude with the sleeping bags in Urbana? It just made me laugh when I read that, so I'm curious about what your experience was.

My experience with the homeless in SF is that most of the ones I encountered seemed to be addicted to hard drugs(as opposed to mantally unstable or drunks), and were either asleep or aggressively seeking the next short term funding, and appeared to be constantly considering any and all options to get it.
posted by dglynn at 2:51 AM on December 27, 2006

The streets are astonishingly ill-maintained. For a place that never freezes, there are far more potholes than you'd expect.

This is my only complaint (but I only get up to The City on weekends).
posted by Rash at 7:04 AM on December 27, 2006

- No one's ever on fricken' time around here. To work meetings, to parties. I'm told I'm midwestern for showing up in the first hour a party is set

*heh* Nah, I'm a Southerner in SF and I'm always the time pusher. Think that's more personality driven than coastal driven, of course, the west coast attracts certain personality types. A quick google search reveals a lot of interesting differences between east coast and west coast business habits, and I admit I prefer the more laid back attitude on the west coast. I can count on one hand how many people I see on the streets wearing a tie in a week.

But my wife and I are probably going to move to Chicago this next year. We love SF, but this housing issue a downer. I want to buy without having to have both of us work two jobs to make a house payment. Now all I have to do is research west coast based companies with offices in Chicago. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 7:38 AM on December 27, 2006

There are homeless drug addicts all over the place, leaving their needles and spoor where you are liable to step in it.

The streets are astonishingly ill-maintained. For a place that never freezes, there are far more potholes than you'd expect.

Is it true that San Franscisco gives pretty generous benefits to the homeless? Like, a few hundred a month to wander the streets and be nasty? If so, you might want to adjust your municipal budget to discourage the former and commit the resources to fixing the latter.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:42 AM on December 27, 2006

jason's_planet: Care Not Cash knocked that payment to $59 a month. Here is a more recent SF Gate article about the city and its struggle with homelessness. And here is the SF Gate Series of articles on homeless in San Francisco.

In the eight years that we've been here, there has been a noticeable decrease in the homeless population. It's a shame that much effort isn't being put into MUNI, though. A possible jewel of a transit system just being bogged down by too much politics.
posted by smallerdemon at 10:33 AM on December 27, 2006

Care Not Cash knocked that payment to $59 a month.

OK. My information was out-of-date. Thanks.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:50 AM on December 27, 2006

lived in the bay area since 97 and in SF for a good two years. I'll probably end up spending the rest of my life here, if I can afford it. That given, these are my downsides:

1 terrible public trans compared to other major cities.

2 can be hard to meet new people, and, depending on what "scene" you're into, it may be very insular. there are certainly some groups and places that welcome strangers, but I guess they're not common. I could see how some people would take this as smugness -- i don't think it is, really, it's just that people are much less likely to engage strangers here. When I moved back to Sacramento, people talked to me all the time, because it was a smaller city and so folks were interested in meeting new people. The demographic that can afford to live in SF usually has all the friends they need already -- it's not some college town where you meet new people easily. if you move there without already knowing people you're probably not gonna have a fun time unless you're very outgoing or involved with some sort of hobby.

3. parking blows, but i don't know of any major cities where parking and driving are fun activities. #1 probably makes it seem worse. Also, cabs are hard to find and more expensive than most other major cities, which also probably makes parking/driving seem worse.

4. admittedly provincial art scene that, imho, is too burning-man-centric (may be a plus for some). anyone who is doing "serious work" is gonna move to LA or NYC anyways though, so there's not much to be done about this, really.

5. terribly terribly terribly expensive housing market. i doubt i will ever be able to afford a house here unless there's a major earthquake.

6. local politics do not seem to affect me much, except in that they often prevent new housing from being built, which results in more of #5. Really difficult to say this with some certainty, though, as there's lots of contention about what is really causing #5. (Some say rent control is causing it, some say sucking up to developers is causing it, some say that it's because there isn't enough high density housing, etc etc).

7. lack of nightlife compared to major nightlife cities (NYC, miami, etc).

most of the other things i don't mind (i fuckin' LOVE the weather here), and some I would actually disagree with -- of course, I haven't lived in other major cities, only visited, so my perspective is definitely skewed.
posted by fishfucker at 2:13 PM on December 27, 2006

Even though there is a large Chinese population in the city, the Chinese restaurants here are surprisingly mediocre and seem to cater more to tourists. For decent Chinese food, you need to get out of the city and drive to the south bay (Milpitas, Cupertino, etc.)
posted by gyc at 12:31 AM on December 28, 2006

A really good, in-depth interview by SFist with the MUNI director.

If so, you might want to adjust your municipal budget

Right. So let's refer back to the political scene, which we find dominated by machine politics and drug-addled hippies.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:15 AM on December 28, 2006

So let's refer back to the political scene, which we find dominated by machine politics and drug-addled hippies.

Ah, yeah. I forgot about that.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:27 PM on December 28, 2006

Right. So let's refer back to the political scene, which we find dominated by machine politics and drug-addled hippies.

Oh please. Machine politics, sure. Drug-addled hippies? Pft. I can assure you that they are not interested in being involved in politics if they are still doing drugs. Not to mention that the most drug addled they might be would be pot.

But yeah, MUNI is suffering not from drug-addled hippy politics. Kind of sucks.
posted by smallerdemon at 6:46 PM on December 29, 2006

And to think that I thought I was the only one around here that has always thought San Francisco was overrated.

Everyone hit on the points I was going to add, but I can add this:
* That really expensive but cute house you spend an ungodly amount of $$ on is probably going to be old. SF has an endless sea of permits that are required before you can do a lot of work. Hell, you need to get a permit if people are going to dance at a party that you hold. Yes, I'm serious.

It's funny to hear people say that the public transit sucks, because in OTHER threads, people talk about how amazing it is and how San Francisco can become a car-free utopia. As we've all seen, that's a bunch of bullshit.

I've had family in SF my whole life. My mother worked for the San Francisco police department and later the welfare/social services department. Over the past 20 years, much of the city really has been filled up with self centered, smug assholes. Many folks are unable to see past their own block and think that their local politics are going to change the world. And I have also encountered some of the most racist and unaccepting people on the planet right there in the Castro district. If you're not white and gay, you're something to be ridiculed and aren't tolerated. Yes, intolerance in the area that's supposed to be loving and tolerant... but only if you're gay. Kind of ironic.

Otherwise, I second everything Gucky said. Except the cabs. I never had trouble finding a cab.
posted by drstein at 7:34 PM on January 1, 2007

It's funny to hear people say that the public transit sucks, because in OTHER threads, people talk about how amazing it is and how San Francisco can become a car-free utopia. As we've all seen, that's a bunch of bullshit.

It's been better, that's for sure. It's sad more than anything else. Although it's no utopia, we've been here 7 1/2 years without a car. It at least exist and can be used for getting around the city on a regular basis. Personally, I work somewhere with a provided shuttle service and I also like to walk.

As far as local politics... uh, *points to anywhere USA* Self-serving pricks in local politics? Shocking. I've got plenty of stories about small town Alabama politics that are equally appalling, as well as city politics in other cities. That's the nature of politics more than the nature of this particular place, I think.

(Say, where are those Other threads?)
posted by smallerdemon at 8:35 PM on January 1, 2007

smallerdemon: just search for half of the "Where should I move?" threads. The amount of people around that think San Francisco is the most amazing place on the planet seems to be pretty high.

I have to say that I think San Francisco politics are in a league of their own. I'm sure that you have plenty of stories, but they're going to be completely off topic and will not help the OP at all.
posted by drstein at 9:59 AM on January 2, 2007

*heh* Oh, yeah, I'm one of those people. I love it here. It is all that to me. But a lot of the negatives mentioned (and the thread is specifically a request for the negative things about the city) are what they are. In some instances, they can be ignored (the smug factor - that's a circle of friends issue from my perspective and I've never run into it in such a way I couldn't walk away and laugh about it), in others not (the perpetual homeless problem, the city is filthy, the housing is unaffordable, the MUNI and BART are struggling and no one gives a damn). But damn, it's beautiful here, and when you do find good friends here they more often than not become GREAT friends. SF's politics may seem a league of their own because they are more publicized, but for the most part, it's no different than any big city or small town (to paraphrase Kissenger about a different issue altogether, "The politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low.")

You're not alone, though, as I know a pile of people that live in the Bay Area and hate SF proper. They won't come into the city unless arms are twisted and threats made. But I know plenty of people that feel that way about ANY city. They don't like cities. In some cases, cities put off the wrong vibe altogether. Atlanta is that example for me. I could never live there. Just the wrong feeling for me. SF feels right. As does Chicago. I could do Austin as well, despite how radically different is seems from SF and Chicago. NY, I love, but live there, no way. Portland, easily could live there. LA, hell no.

Right now would be a tough time to move to SF though. Rents are still high, houses unaffordable, parking still a nightmare, politics are vicious, there are still homeless people, etc. And yet, wow, the sunrise I got to see coming up over the Oakland hills this morning made all of that melt away.
posted by smallerdemon at 10:54 AM on January 2, 2007

smallerdemon: I used to think the scenery was nice too, until I saw a sunset over the badlands in North Dakota. The Golden Gate Bridge sunsets weren't even close. I like the sunrises over Mt. Diablo better too! :)

I'm one of those people that doesn't like big cities anyway. I prefer the rural areas. Maybe it's because I grew up in Tokyo.

But you do bring up a valid point - one man's negative is another man's positive.
posted by drstein at 5:15 PM on January 4, 2007

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