Oakland / The Mission
30 years in the Bay Area
July 24, 2019
0:00 / 44:34
San Francisco is changing too fast
San Francisco is very much centered on technology and everything new. So some of us who have probably lived here for 30 years,
like myself, are interested in history and we came because of the history and the character of San Francisco. And the character
of San Francisco is changing, which is not a surprise, because all big cities change. But in my opinion, the surprise is the speed at which is changing. It’s changing so fast, and it’s changing too fast.
Because with so many more new people, there needs to be new transportation and more transportation. It takes a long time
to make new transportation. Also, it takes a long time for cities to build affordable housing. So it hasn’t caught up yet. We’re going
to have to wait many years before the city can change fast enough to keep up with the rapid change. So the speed is the problem.
It’s happening all too fast. I think there’s no stopping it though. We just have to watch it. San Francisco’s always been an expensive city to live in, ever since the Gold Rush, always been expensive. So that’s nothing new but the speed at which it’s changing. And the speed at which new people are coming here is very fast. A lot of people are coming here very quickly.
I had a great, great time
living in San Francisco
I had a great, great time living in San Francisco. I like the Mission and the Upper Haight. I’m a teacher, a middle class person.
And I feel comfortable around other like teachers and working
bus drivers and middle class people. And I saw San Francisco
was changing to become all so many rich people and upper
class people. So I felt like Oakland was more middle class, more affordable. So I moved to Oakland, where I could buy an apartment.
In San Francisco, I could afford to rent one but I couldn’t afford
to buy one. So for the same amount of renting I bought an apartment in Oakland. So that was a good move. I was lucky about that. But now Oakland is becoming expensive also. But Oakland
is very large. And it will take a long time to change all of Oakland
but it's not changing as fast as San Francisco. I still love San Francisco. I would love to live here, but I can’t really because it’s
too expensive to live here. It’s also gotten a little more crowded
as I get older. I think it’s true with many people as one gets
older. I don’t like crowded cities as much. I like a less crowded city. Oakland is less crowded than San Francisco. Though I love
The Haight Ashbury and the Mission
are very stylish neighborhoods
The Mission and the Haight Ashbury are very much the same in many ways. Often, young people live there. They’re very stylish neighborhoods. They have lots of restaurants and stores. The Haight Ashbury has a long history of music. A lot of famous people lived there during the 1960s and 70s. Tourists go there a lot because of the history with music and the shopping and restaurants. The Haight Ashbury is a great location that's in the center of the city that's near parks. The Mission is interesting because it has a long Hispanic culture. It has lots of Mexican food, which I like. And when I moved here, the Mission was a very cheap neighborhood to live in and that’s one reason I ended up there. And both neighborhoods have good transportation because I don’t own a car.
International and diverse
There are different people from all over the world here, any kind
of food we want and we can buy. “Diverse” has to do with the different people from all over the world, but also people that are unique, like artists, gay and lesbian. So diversity means there
are many different kinds of people.
San Francisco is known for its “free culture” —Do what you want and be who you want to be. A lot of people who moved here were escaping places where they couldn't be themselves and they came here so they can do anything and be a unique person or an artist. I like the freedom here, and it’s less formal.
SF is now famous for other words
Right now, innovation is important, especially with technology. It’s famous for that, I think, innovation.
San Francisco is warmer, not about
the temperature but the people here
I remember when I first came here and I was using BART, and someone came up to me and said, “Do you need help with the BART machine?” I was shocked that they wanted to help me because
in New York people wouldn’t do that.
The diverse cultures have
given the city its character
The diverse and unique cultures have given the city its character since the 1800s. It’s a port city. Many people always come here from other places. So that’s always been the character. Usually “international” is a positive idea in most Americans’ minds. So it gives the city a positive character. There’s a big part of that international flavor is Asian culture because we are near Asia here. Many people came here for work from China and other places. So that’s the city. That’s what it is. It’s international. And it gives it character. And that’s why many people like to come here to see the different cultures and experience part of it. It’s not Japan here. It’s not Korea. It’s not China, but it has a flavor of that. That’s what makes it attractive. That’s why a lot of people come here. I think it’s unique in that way.
I lived in San Francisco and went to Japan for a year to live. When I came back to San Francisco, I was amazed going on Geary Street. And just in three blocks on Geary Street, I can go to have Chinese food, Russian bakery. I can go eat a Mexican food also. So to me that was the contrast between San Francisco and Japan because Japan is like one thing. It’s very specific. And to come back here and see all that diversity of all those different kinds of cultures right on the one street was just amazing for me. It made me realize that I was so lucky here in San Francisco because we have so many choices. Because in Japan, I didn’t have that many choices. In fact, the Japanese will probably see that street as confusing. But for me, I realized that in my culture, a choice is a positive thing. For some other cultures, maybe a choice is confusing. It’s maybe not as interesting. So I realized that I was in the right place. I liked coming back to San Francisco and having those choices right there. That’s special for San Francisco because many place don’t have that.
There are just so many things
you can explore
I lived here 21 years and there are still things I never explored.
You could spend your whole life seeing the different parts
and exploring. But not all people like to explore and they just like
to stay home. There are two newcomers that work in tech in
my building. And they have never taken the train even though we live next door to the train station. I tell them they can take the train to explore and give them some of the opportunities they don’t know. Sometimes you just need to give them a recommendation about what to do and what to explore because they are new here.
The Bay Area is so walkable because the climate is really good.
I like to start out and have one goal and go really slow, meet people and talk to people. Sometimes on my days off, I bring my camera and walk around, meet a friend for lunch and then go walking. I feel like I’m a tourist even though I’ve lived here for 30 years. I still go out like a tourist and take the boat somewhere. Because there are so many endless things to see and to do here. And that’s why I live here.
Promoting the neighborhoods
Since I’m a teacher, I would approach it like education. Giving
tours of the various neighborhoods like the Mission (Hispanic culture), Chinatown (Chinese culture), and I think promoting that with visitors is important. Even local people, giving historical
tours of these neighborhoods and pointing out how many international people live in these neighborhoods and how much
a big part of the city it is. Without those neighborhoods, the
city is not San Francisco. Offering these tours for free to the tech companies, because a lot of these people that work at the
tech companies, I think, are new people here. So offering a free tour of the neighborhoods and promoting those neighborhoods, getting them there, and teaching them about the history. I love history. And I've been on many tours in San Francisco to learn about more history and how important it is.
There are a lot of differences between long-term locals and tech workers, but it doesn’t mean they have to hate each other. There’s nothing good going to come out of a fight. They’re not going to leave the city, or that’s not a solution to be negative and to fight with people. We can help people understand and appreciate each other. And when people understand each other, then there’s less conflict.