Info Gluttony

Free Markets & Gentrification

Posted in politics, thinking about cities, urban planning by echan on March 23, 2009

<Friedman Rant>

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.

</Friedman Rant>

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7 Responses

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  1. adam said, on March 23, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I think if they really want to help the area, they need to run a train there. Without rail, everything else is just flushing money away.

  2. eflan said, on March 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Adam, don’t hate on the 38!

    The 38 Geary already goes there, and it is the bus in the Bay Area with the most daily riders (49,300/day)!!!

    • adam said, on March 23, 2009 at 10:10 pm

      Shouldn’t the fact that the bus is so overcrowded make me hate on it even more?

      On a serious note, buses don’t do as much for development as trains do. Developers (correctly) are concerned that bus routes can change, leaving an area stranded. But once a city lays train tracks, it’s less likely to stop running the train that way. Unless a car company buys the train, but that’s a different story.

      • eflan said, on March 24, 2009 at 12:56 am

        And the J Church isn’t overcrowded?

        I think in SF, it depends. Some buses run well (i.e. the 38), others are flakey (i.e. 29 Sunset, gah, the horror). Same goes with street cars.

        • Robin said, on March 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm

          There’s something psychologically important about the train, though. Can’t quite put my finger on it… (this would be interesting research to formulate somehow)… but I’m not a bus hater at all and I still agree that a train line is important.

        • adam said, on March 25, 2009 at 9:31 pm

          The J church is relatively uncrowded, actually-that’s why they don’t run it very often. But I agree that there’s a big difference between buses and trains-buses can be confusing as it’s hard to tell where they are going and when they will stop. Trains have a defined route and more clearly marked stops, which keeps things simple.

          • eflan said, on March 25, 2009 at 10:23 pm

            The SF Muni map isn’t very hard to read and the buses have the LCD scroll to announce upcoming stops. It’s not difficult to figure out.

            I grew up in the Richmond, so I think that I’m partial towards buses.

            If I had grown up in the Sunset, I’d probably prefer trains.

            All in all, the biggest thing is the number of lines that run near one’s residence. I’ve got 4 bus lines that can take me to work, so life is good.


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