For the last month, I’ve been spending my summer hols in San Francisco. My Med place was getting a refurbishing (Gaggenau oven, Toto toilet, etc), so I thought I´d give it a shot. After all, it is a tech savvy, liberal and generally bikeable place – steep hills aside. Even the public transport works (by North American standards). That being said, the Caltrain station is not exactly Hauptbahnhof in Zürich, if you know what I mean.
However, the city has failed to make any of the Monocle´s lists of liveability. We believe Tyler Brûlé´s response to whether SF was a decent city or not was simply: “God, no!”. Quite. Therefore we feel obliged to point out what has gone so wrong with this seismological little treat on the Pacific.
The list of possible improvements is literally endless, but let’s focus on three main areas:
1. Retail. It’s a nightmare, as is most American cities. Finding an interesting shopping route requires a patient driver, willing to whizz all over the place to get a sufficient itinerary. No Tsutaya´s either, or anything even close to it.
2. City planning. Mayor Newsom may be a celebrity favourite, but a city planner he is not. In certain areas, surprisingly central, a wrong turn on a cross street will send you straight into areas where the locals prefer malt liquor to single malt.
3. Business friendliness. The whole state of California is actually the worst American state to do business in – and has been so for four years running. And even if SF can’t be blamed for the disastrous state of the state, it certainly doesn’t seem to be working especially hard to improve it. Signs of closure are as commonly spotted as 50% sales.
So, is there any hope for San Francisco? Yes. There is a surprising amount of pet oriented stores, especially in the Hayes Valley/Haight districts. Also, to our delight, we found a top pet bakery up on Union Street. We’re glad to see that the notion of canine entrepreneurship is still thriving. If that can’t pull the city and the state out of it’s rut – nothing can.