San Francisco Is Changing, Again

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 (Richard Swerdlow)

Want a good local conversation starter? Try this: "San Francisco has really changed, hasn't it?"

Natives or newbies, everyone says it..."San Francisco has changed, San Francisco is different, San Francisco used to be so much better."

From 50's beatniks to 60's hippies, 70's gays, and 90's dot-commers, everybody has an opinion. And, yes, the city is different, San Francisco has changed.

There's good change and bad change. But, change there is, inevitably.

In San Francisco, nearly every problem solved by the much-discussed change produces new problems. Huge new buildings provide badly needed housing, but push up rents and transform picturesque neighborhoods. New industries create jobs, but push out old jobs and transform the culture with a class of privileged highly-paid workers.     But to those stating the obvious - San Francisco has changed - I'd like to ask: Are you the same person you used to be? Like people, cities are works in progress, never really completed. And in San Francisco, like everywhere, the only constant is change. Are any of those "San Francisco used to be so much better" types honestly suggesting that San Francisco should - or even could - remain forever frozen in whichever era was their idea of San Francisco's good old days?


Of course we need reasonable actions to manage change and keep our city unique, affordable and beautiful. But it's the nature of cities to tear down the old and make way for the new. Cities, like all things on this earth, can't stay exactly the same forever.

So, to those despairing of a changed San Francisco, remember change is the very essence of life. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus said 26 centuries ago, "Nothing is permanent but change." 

And what hasn't changed about San Francisco?

The breathtaking views, fantastic climate, lots of interesting characters and, yes, the little cable cars still climb halfway to the stars.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow. 

Richard Swerdlow works for the San Francisco Unified School District.