Copeland, who grew up and lives in San Leandro, was a bit astounded. After all, San Francisco is one of the world's top tourist destinations, he said, mentioning how snooty travel magazines, such as Conde Nast Traveler, will list it up there with Paris, London, Rome, New York City, as one of the world's great cities to visit.
So, there are those of us in the 'burbs who live 20 or so miles from one of the world's great cities--but we don't visit it. Copeland wanted to know why.
Ever since I was a kid, I loved the chance to get over to San Francisco. For me, it represented a kind of glamour, sophistication and excitement that my hometown of Walnut Creek lacked. When my husband and I fell in love, he lived in the City, and he and I spent our early courtship bopping around different neighborhoods, hanging out in Golden Gate Park, going to see plays and concerts. We lived in San Francisco for about six years in the first years of our marriage, and only moved soon after our son was born. During the time we lived in The City, I felt like I lived in the best place on earth.
My husband, though, was growing disenchanted with how San Francisco, with the tech boom, was becoming a place, it seemed, that was only affordable to new tech millionaires. Working and middle-class families, artists and others in interesting, worthy but low-paying professions--the people who arguably give urban neighborhoods their sense of community and personlity--were getting priced out. San Francisco, under Mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom, was becoming this picturesque but bland playground for the uber-rich.
Now that I'm back in Walnut Creek with a job and family, I don't get into San Francisco as often as I did, when I was 20s single gal living in Walnut Creek. Traffic seems worse, you have to pay lots to cross the bridge and pay for parking or to ride BART. I also don't have the stamina I once did to go into the City after work to go out to eat or to see a play. Battling traffic over the bridge, then coming home late at night: I can't do it.
And we in Walnut Creek like to think we face the hassle of parking in our downtown? Try finding parking on Russian Hill on any evening.
Listeners on Brian Copeland's show called in to complain that the city is dirty, and noisy, and that they can't stand the panhandlers.
What do you think? Do you or do you not go into San Francisco? Do you even venture often west of the Caldecott Tunnel, to dine out in Oakland or Berkeley?
Or do you find everything you need--shopping, entertainment, culture--right here in the 'burbs?