Free Markets & Gentrification
If you grew up in San Francisco, or watched the PBS documentary, or caught Gotanda’s After the War, or decided to read up on Justin Herman’s ambitions, then you are familiar with the story of how urban “revitalization” killed the Fillmore.
Ever since, the City has been trying to atone for Mr. Herman’s mistakes, and its planners have thrown dollar after city tax dollar, at creating a historic jazz district in the Fillmore.
It’s clearly not working, however, and it has grabbed my ire. Yoshi’s SF, has already received $5.7 million in loans from the City, to be the anchor jazz club, and its proprietors are seeking another $1.5 million loan. That’s $7.2 million for one business, and it’ll probably fold. Why does the City continue to prop up failing business models that have no historic value? Rather than try to create a modern version of a neighborhood that doesn’t exist anymore, why doesn’t the the City go with what’s clearly working on this stretch of Fillmore? The Asian bites at TapEx, Jubilee, and Woon Mi (3 a.m. in the morning Korean grub) already bring life to this block. Right across Geary, Dosa’s doing the same with Indian food. And Harputs brings both sneakerheads and fashionistas together for a little bit of shopping. None of these have much to do with live jazz (live jazz, as a past time, seems to be something found on Stuff White People Like), but they bring in foot traffic to this stretch of Fillmore, all without relying on a City handout.
Really, if crime is under control, businesses in SF tend to do just fine on their own, unless there are zoning issues or NIMBY’s preventing them from opening in the first place. The market does just fine.