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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

C.W. Nevius Moves to San Francisco, Gets Parking Ticket

Posted By on Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 12:15 PM

San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius -- excoriated as a "conservative suburban twit" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian for having the temerity to expose Supervisor Chris Daly's purchasing of homes in suburban Fairfield after the supe sat on the news for months -- made a surprise announcement this morning. He is surburban no more. He's moved back to San Francisco. And not to just any neighborhood -- but Daly's District 6 in South Beach near the ballpark.

Perhaps Nevius can offer Daly moving tips prior to the lame duck supe's pending exodus to Fairfield. "It's just about perfect, isn't it?" says Nevius with a laugh.

"We've been back two weeks. Yesterday I got a parking ticket. So we've had the full city experience," Nevius continued. "I have not heard from my supervisor yet. But the phone hasn't been connected yet. I'm sure he's been trying to get a hold of me."

In this morning's column announcing his move back into the city after 20 years in Walnut Creek, Nevius noted that "no one in the history of the world ever washed his rental car." It's a good point -- and one that goes a long way toward explaining why young folks who don't figure on living long in San Francisco feel so entitled to shit, piss, and vomit on doorsteps during Bay to Breakers. But will a flood of greying empty-nesters -- Nevius is a 60-year-old who realized along with his wife that "we didn't have any more soccer games or swim meets to attend" -- push San Francisco to make difficult changes? 

For SF Weekly's December cover feature, "The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.," we got a hold of several professors studying San Francisco's population trends. It turns out that the Neviuses are far from the only middle-aged folks moving here to enjoy what San Francisco has to offer (though, at 60, Nevius is hardly a "retiree"):

Research by professor Bill Watkins of California Lutheran University over the past decade reveals that San Francisco is shedding its middle-class population at double the state rate. The city, however, is not losing low-income people at nearly the state's pace -- and is gaining wealthy residents at far more than California's overall rate. In short, we are replacing our middle class with a rich elite and a burgeoning underclass. Watkins' research also reveals that San Francisco is going gray. The number of city residents between ages 45 and 64 has climbed, while the count of those aged 20 to 44 has dropped. The city, it seems, has become a target destination for the wealthy and retirees. These are not the people who want to make sacrifices now to shore up the city's future.

"Wealthier people are consuming," Watkins says. "They don't want to build a future. They don't have a reason to invest in the community." For that matter, neither do young people -- because their futures likely involve moving out of San Francisco. According to Joel Kotkin, "San Francisco is Disneyland for adults, or a place people go until they grow up."

The stage is set for San Francisco to run on inertia. The city's poor are unable to effect a sea change; the young, nomadic population is uninterested; and the wealthy and older are unwilling.

Nevius has the soapbox of his Chron column to complain about perceived injustices. But do his fellow empty-nesters selling homes in the 'burbs and moving to condos in South Beach give a damn about this city in the long run?

"That's the $64 million question," says Nevius. "Are these people here to eat in great restaurants, go to plays, and go to Giants games or to get involved in social change? I don't have any idea." 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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