I don't want to live in your glass neighborhood

The glass walled ground floors of new buildings that go up in our cities suck. I hate them. I think everyone hates them.

They have no character, they don’t allow variety, and they cater towards chain shops that inspire no one. There’s no facade that people get full ownership over and can express themselves creatively through.

I lived in San Francisco for almost five years, and moved in when the gentrification debate was hitting its stride. There’s lots to be said about all that, but it’s mostly already been said better by other people. While I would love for there to be more affordable housing, San Francisco seems to be nearly ungovernable and can’t seem to build more than the bare minimum of housing. Instead they want shadow studies on any new buildings, and NIMBYs delay new buildings for years (please god, I hope the YIMBYs win). It’s absurd.

All that would be bad enough as it is. But then, when a building does get built, in spite of all the restrictions, we get places like SOMA where absolutely nobody but freshly minted tech workers want to hang out. Seriously, who wants to be in that place? Mission Bay? Does anybody live there by choice? These are just soulless places. You can feel it just by walking through them. King St is weird as hell man.

You can also see it in new construction in the Mission. New buildings like 3500 19th St. These stores suck. Their facades suck. How about 1600 15th St? This little paradise has an AlphaGraphics and a WinderGibson Architects.

Look, I love capitalism. Capitalism solves a lot of problems (seriously, not having access to a variety of jobs, it is a terrifying prospect faced by many people). But goddamit, I want cool neighborhoods. Where does the local pizza shop fit into these new places? What about places like Workshop SF?

Why did all this happen? It’s not just SF, it’s happening in NYC as well.

Is this greed? Just trying to maximize rent? Is it capitalism to the point where you just don’t give a shit about the neighborhood?

I hate it. Is this fixable? Is this just the time we’re in? Is this just a transitionary state? Or is this really bad, maybe long-term bad for neighborhoods?

I really don’t like the idea of building more regulations into a city that is basically overrun with regulation, but what a shit show.

Written on April 26, 2018