html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: The Chamber of Commerce should pay me for this.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Chamber of Commerce should pay me for this.

I moved to Sacramento in ’98, so I missed the early 90’s in Midtown, when it was all meth and prostitutes and no one wanted to live there so you couldn’t sell your 2000 sq ft Craftsman for $85,000. By the time I got there, Midtown wasn’t sketchy, housing prices were starting to climb, but there still wasn’t much of a scene. I remember thinking that there was nothing wrong with Midtown that another forty thousand residents wouldn’t fix. I don’t know if I guessed the number right, but whatever density it took to bring Midtown alive has arrived. There are more new restaurants and cafes and small stores than I can keep up with; it has become intricate and interesting to be here.

For all that, Sacramento is still pleasant. If you live in a big city, you probably don’t notice the trade-off you are making, in daily effort and ugliness and incivility. I visit friends in the Bay Area and they don’t even see that their daily life is hard; that they spend lots of small pieces of frustrated time in lines and poorly regulated intersections and finding parking and poor customer service. They’re used to it and they love the great parts of being in a big city. But for me, who wouldn’t use the amazing parts of being in a world class city very often, who doesn’t go to esoteric shows by musicians I really should know, who doesn’t eat at the extremely authentic pho place because extremely authentic means meat, who would rather be in bed by 10:30 anyway, that trade-off isn’t worth it. I would rather have all my days be easy.

Sacramento is easy. It is easy to run your errands, because everything is close. When my friend called to say that she was driving by and saw code enforcement in front of my house, I called the Public Works department, where I spoke to Officer Vargas. We very pleasantly discussed a schedule for mowing my lawn, and it was easy. Seeing friends is easy, so it happens a lot. When you want a community garden plot, you tell me or Denise and you get one; when you call the cops, they come (in Midtown); when you have to drive somewhere, you park in front of your destination. People aren't frustrated, so they smile easily.

I also like that I can have a lot of say in what Sacramento becomes. I go to meetings of the Parks Commission, to tell them to keep those vermin soccer players off my fields. I’ll be at a public meeting tonight on changing the city code so it doesn’t require lawns. When I email my Councilman, he emails me back. I don’t bother the mayor when I see her at Farmer’s Market, but I expect a nod of recognition because we’ve met a couple times. The league we started is becoming a city institution, and my secret project for the summer may also become a city institution.

Adjectives like friendly and beautiful and pleasant and accessible may not convince you that Sacramento is a great city. It is surely not exciting or exotic. But people here love it, and I do too.

16 Comments:

Anonymous ptm said...

That's a big part of what I love about Salt Lake City. That, and the really big mountains next door.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You still didn't tell us why you might have to leave Sacramento.

And, there are nice neighborhoods in the bay area too. The bay area is more than just SF you know. I live on the peninsula, about 20 miles south of SF. There's lots of convenient parking and shopping and nice restaurants and whatnot.

But, I haven't been to Sacramento in a long time, it might seem nicer if I went back now. I don't know. I just remember downtown feeling lifeless, and the distance to wilderness seemed high. Your distance to skiing is nice though.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I know, I'm trying to pace myself.

Come to Pie Contest in August (the 19th, I think) and see if there is more to Sac than you remember.

I've lived in Berkeley and Burlingame (more or less), but not SF.

2:43 PM  
Blogger NL said...

How have you not addressed the absolutely oppressive heat?

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pfft, go spend a few years in the midwest.

Sac gets hot, no doubt. But, it's dry heat. 90 with high humidity is worse than 110 with no humidity. All of California has spectacular weather year round, from what I've seen. It barely rains, it doesn't snow, except in the mountains, it doesn't get cold, and while it does get a little hot, it's not unbearable, and it doesn't last long.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

My bad - August 20th. Pie Contest is always on a Sunday.

The heat doesn't bother me. When it gets above 105, I go for a run. Having lines of salt crystals on my face makes me feel bad-ass.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just like me. The weather doesn't bother me, hot, cold, rain, snow, whatever.

I just spent a few days climbing in Red Rock, right outside Las Vegas. It was over 100 degrees each day. I carry a 50 pound pack on the approach, then the climbing itself. The rock was, at times, uncomfortably hot to the touch.

Kind of a fun dichotomy. Days out in those ridiculous desert conditions climbing and hiking. Nights on the Las Vegas strip.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

Last year in Sac, the heat wasn't really a problem. Yeah, it was pretty hot, but it's really shady. In fact The Grid makes Sacramento the thrid most treed city in the world. (#'s 1 & 2 being Paris, and somewhere in Georgia.)

One HUGE plus for me was the bike trail which goes from downtown all the way up to Folsom 30 miles away. (Along a river the whole way.) SO nice and SO easy that we would ride it 3+ times/week. (Not the whole thing, just 10-15 miles RT. In the evening... after work and before dinner.) Really a treat.

One sucky thing about Sac, and I should have gotten Megan to help w/ this, is the IDI's: Incredibly Dangerous Intersections. They're scattered throughout The Grid. We lived next to one which would produce a shocking T-bone car accident about once each week!! The cops and the transportation department blew me off when I suggested signage. I think IDI's are the reason my car insurance went UP when I moved to Sac from Oakland.

3:24 PM  
Blogger grant said...

Sacramento sounds fantastic.

There isn't much that beats pie and sunshine.

-From the dreariest corner of the world...the furthest place from fun and friendliness...Albany, NY

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, that bike path has a 15mph speed limit on it, like most other bike paths. Not much use if you want to do any serious biking.

3:43 PM  
Blogger srchngformystry said...

i lived in sac when i was going to college there. i met the man who would sire my first and only child i remember how much i hated the heat, but the fall, winter, and summer were really awesome.

i never really thought of going back to live, but if i were to, id re-read this post. you should be in real estate.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous thelonious_nick said...

Sacramento sounds pleasant. One thing I like about the DC area is that despite the terrible traffic, there is a world class subway system as an alternative. I know Sacramento has a light rail system. Maybe you could you could supplement your mini-travelogue with your experiences on this system? Please indulge the geekiness of us mass transit fans who've never been to Sacramento.

4:58 AM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

Granted, most places have their own looming disasters. That one picture you posted of the delta being stuffed full of houses was a little scary, though. Since it's your area of expertise, how risky do you think it really is?

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only been to Sacramento briefly. How would it compare to Portland? (just curious)

7:02 AM  
Anonymous fasolamatt said...

Substitute "St. Paul" for Sacramento and "winter" for summer and you've got my neighborhood, despite the dragons and the streets laid out by drunken Irishmen (according to Governor Ventura).

9:37 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

t_n: All of my favorite men are huge mass transit geeks. I'll hold off about light rail for a couple weeks, because I think it is about to be a lot more relevant for me. I think I'm about to not have a car.

Mitch: That picture was of houses on an alluvial fan in Southern California. I should put up some disaster porn about floods. Flood in Sac? Maybe. If Folsom Dam breaks, Sacramento would be flooded before anyone could do anything. But my guess is that if there were any warning of a flood, we would destroy other levees and send the flood elsewhere before we let a major city go under.

Anonymous: I haven't been to Portland. My Chris and Tall Chris both tell me it is still much nicer than Sac. However, our city planning department has a big contingent of former Portland planners, who think Sacramento is the next place with the most potential.

9:45 AM  

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