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NorCal v. SoCal

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Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge

Reihan Salam writes in Slate:

Selfish, Selfish San Francisco

It would be a much better city with twice the population. Instead it’s America’s largest gated community.

Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of visiting the Bay Area, to see friends and to attend a conference. The conference was held in a beautifully-situated resort in Marin County overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, where a small number of low-rise buildings dotted a pristine landscape. And I thought to myself, as I often do, that it was insane that this land was not instead dotted by massive high-rises housing thousands of people. The beautiful town of Sausalito has a population of just over 7,000 within its 2¼ square miles. But would it be any less lovely if it were home to twice as many people, or 10 times as many even? Or would it be lovelier still if graceful towers full of young families sprouted on land currently devoted to, of all things, golf courses?

Actually, there are no golf courses in the southern half (or so) of Marin County, which seems unfortunate. There is a golf course in the Presidio in San Francisco at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge that dates back to 1895 and has been open to the public since the fort was decommissioned.

Since everybody has an opinion on San Francisco and Northern California these days, let me repost something I wrote for VDARE a decade ago:

Subtle but important social differences emerged between Southern and Northern California. Which was the better model was arguable—until recently. Now, however, it has become clear that Northern California`s traditional elitism has helped it withstand the onslaught of illegal immigration better than Southern California`s traditional populist libertarianism.

Personally, I always preferred the greater openness of Southern California society. But that kind of freedom comes at the expense of quality of life when it’s abused by millions of foreign lawbreakers. To use David Hackett Fischer’s system for categorizing the four kinds of British immigrants, Northern Californian was largely founded by New Englanders of Puritan descent. Southern California was largely populated by Middle Westerners, whose social roots typically stretch back to colonial Pennsylvania and to the South. By the 1950s, it was the paradise of the common man.

Northern California went through the typical political evolution of post-Puritans: into Lincolnian Republicans, then reformist Progressives, then modern lifestyle liberals intent, paradoxically, on preserving old-fashioned amenities like open space, traditional architecture, higher culture, and wildlife. In contrast, Southern California was much more conservative, as the popularity of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan testify. But in the 1990s, much of the GOP base began to be driven into the Great Basin by illegal immigration-driven population growth. Southern California’s Republican remnant, in its gated communities, is coming around to the Northern liberal point of view.

Northern California forestalled much of the dreariness of Southern California’s Hispanic areas by being a high-cost economy. Ferociously powerful unions kept wages high. Stringent aesthetic restrictions and large amounts of land devoted to parks kept housing costs high. Northern Californians spearheaded the environmentalist movement—which had the unspoken but not-unintended consequence of driving up property values even further.

Southern California, in contrast, was not heavily unionized or environmentalized. It encouraged developers to put up huge tracts of homes.

Conservatives have had a hard time grasping that homeowners often use environmental laws to thwart new developments and enhance the value of their own property. Conservatives like to think of themselves as preserving property rights from meddling environmentalists.

But the fact is that property owners themselves are often among those most intent on meddling. In the ranchlands east of Oakland, for example, housing restrictions mean that most developments are dense housing pods surrounded by vast expanses populated only by cows. In the south of the state, it would all be tract housing.

The Monterey Peninsula exemplifies Northern elitism, private enterprise-style. The exquisite oceanfront Del Monte Forest is accessible only via the 17 Mile Drive, which costs an $8.25 toll to traverse, or 49 cents per mile. It`s worth it, though, because much of the natural beauty has either been preserved untouched, or enhanced with the finest set of golf courses in America: Pebble Beach, the famous public course with a $395 greens fee; Cypress Point, the ultra-private “Sistine Chapel of Golf;” Spyglass Hill, Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s best course; and four others. Tellingly, Northern California has preserved most of its best golf courses from the Golden Age of golf architecture (1911-1933). But Southern California has lost many such courses, like George C. Thomas’ Fox Hills in West Los Angeles, to housing during the post-War boom.

As a native Los Angeleno, Northern Californian snobbishness has always gotten on my nerves. Nonetheless, the payoff has become undeniable. Rather than being inundated with unskilled immigrants from one country, Northern California mainly attracts skilled immigrants from a wide diversity of countries. The lesson for the GOP is sobering. If it won’t fight to enforce immigration laws on the national level, citizens will try to parry the effects at the local level. And the socially acceptable way to keep out swarms of poor immigrants is the Northern Californian liberal way: environmentalism, unionism, historical preservationism, NIMBYism—indeed, the whole panoply of Democratic Party policies at the state and local level.


73 Comments to "NorCal v. SoCal"

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  1. Yes, as Colin Woodard notes, much of Southern California is part of the “El Norte” nation, while (coastal) Northern California is part of the Yankee-settled Left Coast. The interior of the state (including Sacramento) Woodard considers to be part of the Far West.

    As with the rest of the country, there are plenty of regional clashes that fall along these lines.

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  2. Well if you are going that way I imagine it also keeps out the wrong kind of “natives.”

    Probably not many people from the West Virginia diaspora there. Or come to think of it, native Americans (you know, Indians without a dot).

  3. Steve, I think this is one of your best columns. You pull a lot together here. Well done.

  4. Lefty environmentalists waking up to their disastrous folly vs. The 3rd world is going to be one of the more interesting things to watch (through tears)

  5. “The beautiful town of Sausalito has a population of just over 7,000 within its 2¼ square miles. But would it be any less lovely if it were home to twice as many people, or 10 times as many even?”

    This is a picture of Hell. When did the overpopulated world of Blade Runner become a desirable utopia?

  6. Another factor in keeping land away from developers was the fact that much of southern Marin’s land was owned by the Army until 1972, then transferred directly to the National Park Service.

    Salam’s highrises-in-Marin proposal was attempted, and shot down by the locals, in the late 1960s. Google “Marincello” for the full story.

    A small point: the Presidio’s golf course was built in 1896, not in the 1990s. Until the early 90′s, it was the Presidio Army Golf Course, with access limited (mostly) to Army personnel and dependents assigned to the 6th Army HQ, the main tenant command at the Presidio.

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  7. A lot of revealing, brutal truth about how people really behave. Deserves to become viral.

  8. Off topic, but wondering how the democrat party would divide if Hobby Lobby decided to only pay for birth control for minorities. Would that satisfy the liberals who are demanding it? Or would they claim genocide?

  9. Who do you hate more — mexicans or environmentalist/unions members?

  10. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"]
    • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Interesting that the bluest of all cities–like Manhattan region–is also the most privileged, most exclusive, most wealthy, most unequal, most arrogant, most narcissistic, etc.

    But hey, they are for ‘gay marriage’, so they are heart-and-soul of what is most essential to human progress! I mean you’re ‘less evolved’ and subhuman unless you are for ‘gay marriage’, something loved by Wall Street tycoons and Silicon Valley billionaires.

  11. Priss Factor [AKA "Skyislander"]
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    We agree. Ship all the Mexicans in LA and Dallas to San Fran.

  12. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Steve, Presidio Golf Course (now called Arguello Gate BTW) wasn’t built in the ’90s. It’s been there all along. Hogan won a tournament there around 1940. It was military only before the 1987 pullout. And I’m a bit miffed you didn’t credit me for calling out Salam two days ago in the comments about his fictitious placement of a golf course in Sausalito. Also, we native San Franciscans take pride in not being snobs. Marin, Burlingame, Monterey, sure, but not us.

  13. A minor quibble, “…withstand the onslaught of illegal immigration…”

    That they are illegal isn’t the problem. The problem is that the unfettered immigration is too much for the previous population to integrate and assimilate. A different administrative status that made all those immigrants “legal” wouldn’t make the situation any different.

    Perhaps replace “illegal immigration” with “excessive immigration.”

  14. San Diego has taken a middle path between SF Bay and LA. The vast majority of the city and suburbs are medium and large single family lots, with massive wild open space and park space in between. The limited space allowed for multi-family means much of it consists of $500K-$2 million luxury condos.

    The downtown area is full of whites living in condo towers, and UTC has NE Asians (with a smattering of Indians and whites) living in lux condos and dense townhouses, and is pretty unique in the United States, like someone plopped a couple dense new suburbs of Amsterdam and Tokyo onto the West Coast.

    For this reason, despite being on the Mexican border, most of the city is under 10-20% URM, with the URM population instead living in crowded areas south and southeast of town and a few pockets in the semi-rural/exurban east and northeast.

    While San Diego is somewhat cheaper than SF/LA, this is fairly amazing considering that its area is about the same but its total population is so much lower. Rents started to rise 5-10% a year in 2009 as a lot of people were foreclosed and locked out of the purchase market despite good incomes, and have not stopped since.

  15. Hi Steve,

    What is your opinion of the Santa Barbara area? In terms of what you wrote above, it seems like a pocket of Northern California stuck in Southern California. Does this have to do with the elitist Hollywood expats who have so much influence there, or do you have some other theory?

  16. The problem with the Northern CA model is that you have to keep raising the bar until it isn’t only immigrants who are unable to afford it, but some 90% of ordinary young Americans as well (an SF house costs about a million bucks these days). And eventually you’ll have to let the immigrants in anyway, because there won’t be any young Americans left to keep the city running.

    Kids are what, 10% of SF’s population now? And the ones left are increasingly only the children of the rich or the poor NAMs. I’ve been talking a lot with young family people in Washington state, which has gone the Norcal route, and their attitude toward city living is a lot more hostile than it was some ten years ago. The expense is a serious affront to young families, not to mention the cultural dominance of the freaks who run around naked at every opportunity without a thought in the world as to whether it’s appropriate to do so around children.

    Something’s got to give one way or another. Neither California model is sustainable for much longer.

  17. San Diego has also decided, like SF, to become a playground for the global rich. For those that want tropical weather rural ranches, we have Rancho Santa Fe with its 1-20 acre wooded lots. Bill Gates has one.

    For rich middle-American retirees, there is Coronado, where the McCains have several of their houses/condos.

    For rich retirees who like a more urban/Euro environment, we have Downtown and La Jolla. 1 in 5 people walking around downtown La Jolla will be speaking French or German.

    For rich gays and hipsters, we have Hillcrest, where a 90-year-old Arts & Crafts cottage on one of the better streets will run you around $850,000.

    Finally, San Diego is a great but very expensive place for a family vacation. Your resort hotel will be $140+ a night, your beachfront rental will be $300+ a night, and Sea World and the Zoo both cost more than $60/person.

  18. Spot on. Northern Californians generally take a dim view of SO CAL, seeing them as reckless in planning and a mess in general. There is also a resentment of them using our water. From my observations the only people who move to LA are people who think they are going to break into showbiz, most people are vocal about never wanting to move there, seeing it as a hellhole. Haha it’s kind of funny. There are pockets of wealth too up here that kind of fly under the rader, not ostentatious wealth but families that have managed to hold on to a few dollars over generations. Also it seems like there is more blurred lines, like you say, over views environmentalism between liberals and conservatives.

  19. None of the above. Neither model is conducive to affordable family formation for young native born white Americans.

  20. The beautiful town of Sausalito has a population of just over 7,000 within its 2¼ square miles. But would it be any less lovely if it were home to twice as many people, or 10 times as many even? Or would it be lovelier still if graceful towers full of young families sprouted on land currently devoted to, of all things, golf courses?

    Of course it would be less lovely. Ten times less lovely, maybe. What is this, some kind of bizarre parody?

  21. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    It’s a fascinating symposium of the power of market forces ie the banding together of individuals, power and money interests in cartellizing real estate in order to achieve the desired result. It’s all unwritten of course done on a nod and a wink but somehow it’s the collective will of an uspoken social compact between millions of umconnected citizens. A force that politicians should not and cannot ignore.
    Perhaps socal was the advance warning being near to the source of the pestilence. Perhaps norcal is merely the backlash an anti immigration system built largely on nods, winks and quiet conspiracy. What people say and what people actually do are two entirely different things.

  22. I hate to disagree, but the Bay Area is collapsing under the immigration crush only a tiny bit slower than Southern California. Sure, Marin County is a lovely escape from reality, but we peasants who live in San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties are watching our quality of life drop precipitously. It is only the people in the very highest income brackets who manage to avoid the worst of it.

    My once beautiful East Bay neighborhood is now 90 percent Hispanic immigrants. Loud music from the neighbors’ outdoor parties fills the streets in the evenings. There is nowhere on my street to park. I woke up this morning to find a Mexican gang sign written on my car. The young families in the neighborhood are very large, so the future is constantly before my eyes.

    I live quite close to vast stretches of protected open space and parkland, but that has not protected my formerly solidly middle class neighborhood and hundreds of others like it in the Bay Area from the demographic tidal wave. I am tremendously saddened by what is happening here.

  23. SF is dirty, dangerous, noisy and lousy with the homeless and crazy “activists.” Not much of a gated community. Sure they are pushing out all but the upper class, but look at the rest of the Bay Area. Middle and working class whites are driven out by costs and no jobs, replaced by tech “geniuses” who are mostly asian and white carpet baggers. Also the hispanic population is growing fast. San Jose and environs are not much different than Socal. The east bay north of Fremont is dying. We left the area and don’t miss a thing about it.

  24. Hey Steve, this off topic link is right up your alley:

    Black Prep School President Steps Down After Mocking White Classmates

    Peterson: “‘I understand why I hurt people’s feelings, but I didn’t become president to make sure rich white guys had more representation on campus,’ she told the website. ”

    She may be referencing rich whites guys but, that is just an allusion to all white people.

    Yup, their young ones know its a war, when will our side realize its a war.

  25. One of early modern England’s greatest unsung accomplishments was keeping its population from overshooting its resources. They did it even without birth control and IUD’s. And they did it while promoting childbearing among wealthy, educated, married children.

    It would be nice to see someone, somewhere, talking about the general ecological problem of overpopulation and population growth, which exists in spite of the particular social problem of wealthy, educated, married people having arguably too few kids.

    Population stabilization in the US doesn’t have a chance, however, while conservatives advocate for more fetuses and babies and liberals for more immigration and welfare.

  26. The irony that the majority of SWPL types support open borders, yet at the same time the majority of SWPL types do not want to live anywhere near Mexicans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans, Guatemalans, etc.

    SWPL types in California tend to live in neighborhoods where there are very few Spanish speaking Brown faces.

    These idiots do not realize that you can no longer have a hipster Whitopia in the U.S if you have open borders.

  27. “None of the above. Neither model is conducive to affordable family formation for young native born white Americans.”

    Elitism does keep brown population growth down, but of course if it’s too expensive to raise kids, the people there will die out in any case.

    Then there’s the Republican model, which makes it considerably easier to raise a family, but also attracts lots of poor immigrants. Texas is a great proxy for that. AFAIK, there is no deep-red state with a strong economy and lots of white family formation which is not getting overrun with immigrants.

    There is a similar effect at the national level, depending upon if there’s a Republican or a Democrat president. The ironic thing is, nonwhite population growth and immigration is quite a bit slower during Democrat presidencies (Clinton, Obama) than Republican ones (Reagan, the Bushes). This is pretty much 180 degrees from what people expect, but it’s true.

    In Europe, one sees the UK and France having a more SoCal model, and becoming increasingly black and Muslim; Germany is more NorCal, but its birth rate is one of the lowest in the world.

  28. OT but relevant to the latent fragility of the Democratic ethnic coalition – NYC Chinese immigrants taunt the homeless during a community meeting after a new homeless shelter is approved in their neighborhood

    (The bulk of their protest signs are in Chinese, which is both remarkably fob-y and useless, as NYC planning department officials probably can’t read Chinese)

  29. I am so proud of myself for reading the entire article after encountering:
    It was insane that the land was not instead dotted by massive highrises housing thousands of people.
    Something was insane….the entire article.

  30. Steve, I think the Arizona model is the best way forward with its balance between land, open cities, and conservative, liberty loving outlook.

  31. In America there is enough room for so many more people than we have now. I can’t believe how selfish we westerners can be with our land and wealth.

  32. So, Steve, the one SoCal area that would seem to conform with NoCal standards would be Malibu.

    You’ve written before how U2′s The Edge has been fighting the town to build/develop a resort on his own land.

    Would this be the same in NoCal? Suppose a developer wanted to build tons of tract house developments outside Palo Alto or in the heart of Silicon Valley itself. In an effort to triangulate the old guard, so to speak, he used UNIONIZED labor.

    1. Would this help his chances of getting the development built?

    2. What are the chances overall of developing and building lots of tract house neighborhoods (on the level of SoCal) in NoCal, period?

    3. This dove tails nicely with your piece but isn’t always noticed. The Hollywood irony. It’s based in the heart of SoCal yet the politics it espouses in their finished green lit products tend to take a very strong NoCal position on development.

    Ever since about the 80s onward (admittedly its more noticeable on TV shows) there have been tons of episodes where the bad guy, villian, etc is a crooked underhanded “evil” developer, who only wants to tear down Mother Nature’s pristine so and so and build a—-HORRORS!—strip mall! Tract housing development for middle classes! And not even a housing section 8, but one for those sorts of folks—the middle classes! Ye Gods! Bottom line: Whenever you see a developer in a show or film, chances are most likely that he (mostly a white male, since whites are the only ones who develop stuff) is the bad guy in the narrative.

    Although, Hollywood didn’t appear to remember its own politics when it made “Field of Dreams” where the Costner character thinks nothing of tearing down prime farm land in Iowa for the assinine ridiculous concept of building a 1910′s style ballpark for long dead past players.

    How come it was okay then to tear down farmland to develop a ballpark in Iowa but the Edge can’t build his inn/hotel on his own land?

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  33. At a loss why any sensible community would allow anything more than low rise 2 family homes, and all with major setbacks and open space. Never ceases to amaze that the liberal build to the sky mentality does not grasp how artificial that really is. We have plenty of space. The more concentrated housing gets the less it’s valued by it’s occupants. Look at any hosting project or slum.

  34. So Reihan Salam wants San Francisco to be more like . . . Bangladesh?

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  35. “Let the Devil take the hindmost” is the strategy of a routed army, not a healthy nation.

  36. In response to Bill, the Nor Cal model will keep working because it is a very attractive place to the top say 10% of the cognitive elite. So perhaps they only stay for say 10 years until they get married want to have kids then move out to more affordable areas. But then another cohort moves in to replace them. This is the same model that keeps Manhattan moving along.

  37. In 1968 I stopped in Carmel with my BF. The 17 mile drive was then about 2.50. That seemed like so much money, so we passed and continued to socal.

  38. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Silly jhanson don’t you know that stupid red state evangelicals and tea partiers in Arizona and Texas you know the type that actually elect conservatives to office are to stupid to see why “hyper intelligent” (albeit somehow not exactly high achieving) alt righters in California know so much better than they.
    Chuck Hagel’s got their back because he started opposing the Iraq War in 2006 whch was really brave or something.

  39. Thanks for reposting that. California’s growing popularity still puzzles me.

  40. Okay, it was upgraded and opened to the public in the 1990s.

  41. Priss Factor [AKA "centro"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    ” Germany is more NorCal, but its birth rate is one of the lowest in the world.”

    Israeli way is best.

    Just have a sizable portion of the population do nothing but study and have children via tax payer dollars. At least they will be creating more Germans.
    Procreation as profession.

  42. Priss Factor [AKA "cinco"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    What do these two have in common?

    Black oddballs showered with top honors by a … mostly privileged white student body.

    So much like how Obama got elected.

    These are not the kinds of blacks that a black school would honor.

    To be black and be honored by whites, one must be ‘different’ from most blacks.

  43. ” there is no deep-red state with a strong economy and lots of white family formation which is not getting overrun with immigrants.”

    States like Nebraska and North Dakota are deep red states and they are not Mestizotopias at all. Those states are much Whiter than the national average.

  44. “I think the Arizona model is the best way forward with its balance between land, open cities, and conservative, liberty loving outlook.”

    When gas goes to $5/gal, Arizona will be dead the next day.

  45. The southern California model is worse, as it results in high NAM birth rates and being taken over demographically by NAMs. The northern California model at least preserves a community and allows the rich to have a place to form families and live.

    The problem is that the northern California model is affordable to maybe 10-20% of the population. Though I suspect that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The average upper middle class coastal state professional doesn’t want to live around NAMs or non-affluent whites.

    The ideal model is pre-1980s California. Few immigrants, affordable housing, high wages. In that environment, the elites get their fancy neighborhoods and commoners can buy into good areas too.

    If not for the opening of the immigration flood (legal and illegal), California would easily be the best American state.

  46. Priss Factor [AKA "centro"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Hong Kong model or Singapore model?

    As long as Chinese dominate, who cares?

    So, the Chinese think.

  47. A little poetry is the best response here.

    Cut down that timber! Bells, too many and strong,
    Pouring their music through the branches bare,
    From moon-white church-towers down the windy air
    Have pealed the centuries out with Evensong.
    Remove those cottages, a huddled throng!
    Too many babies have been born in there,
    Too many coffins, bumping down the stair,
    Carried the old their garden paths along.

    I have a Vision of The Future, chum,
    The worker’s flats in fields of soya beans
    Tower up like silver pencils, score on score:
    And Surging Millions hear the Challenge come
    From microphones in communal canteens
    “No Right! No wrong! All’s perfect, evermore.”

    The Planster’s Vision, John Betjeman

  48. But would it be any less lovely if it were home to twice as many people, or 10 times as many even?

    Or a hundred times as many? Or a thousand times as many? Or a millions times as many?

    The stupid we will always have with us. There’s no good reason why we have to keep giving them op-ed space and fellowships though.

  49. Hunsdon (“So Reihan Salam wants San Francisco to be more like . . . Bangladesh?”) finally notes what I’ve been thinking since I read the beginning of the post – at comment #37. First thing an Asian thinks upon seeing lots of open space is how to fill it with more Asians.

    Sounds as though Salan’s thinking of Vancouver as a model – formerly a beautiful city with lots of open spaces, and now filled with thousands upon thousands of Chinese and Indians. Living space? Personal space? What are those? Bring all your cousins and your tottering old grandparents, as well, and you can all go shopping en masse in a public demonstration of Asian family togetherness! North America, ain’t it grand?

  50. @Michael J

    That model has only been in place for about twenty years. That isn’t long enough to say “it works.” In Seattle, I grew up around rich legacy kids and very bright middle class kids, both of whom had a shot at inclusion in the ranks of the elite.

    Today, the middle class kids are shut out, which eliminates the bulk of the productive potential. This “cognitive elite” doesn’t only spring from the loins of the 1%. Most brilliant kids come from relatively modest backgrounds.

    The idea that these very bright children of the middle class will naturally migrate to the shark pools of cities like San Francisco and Seattle is naive at best. Twenty or thirty years ago they could put in the time to prove themselves without sacrificing family and the other fundamentals that upwardly mobile young people strive for. Today, they cannot. It’s myopic to assume that most talented young men will forego marriage and family for the privilege of being Jeff Bezos’ slave for a few years.

    If my sons turn out to have potential along those lines, I’ll tell them it isn’t worth it to blow their prime family formation years in a moral cesspool like SF — I do want grandchildren eventually, after all. Better they sacrifice some income and lead normal lives in humbler places than end up over 40 with no kids and a frigid, materialistic wife.

  51. Priss Factor [AKA "Cloudcastler"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    North v south is misleading since the north supported and pushed policies that made the south what it is.

    When many in south cal said ‘stop illegal immigration’, those in the north used their muscle to ensure that the south would be flooded by more illegals.

    While the north had a more elitist policy, it used its power to ensure that the south would be inundated with populist immigration pressures from the south of the border.

  52. Priss Factor [AKA "Cloudcastler"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    “California’s growing popularity still puzzles me.”

    Mountains, trees, and coastline.

  53. “The beautiful town of Sausalito has a population of just over 7,000 within its 2¼ square miles. But would it be any less lovely if it were home to twice as many people, or 10 times as many even?”

    This is a picture of Hell. When did the overpopulated world of Blade Runner become a desirable utopia?

    You’d need to expand beyond 2.5 square miles, but, sure, with good urban design and a bit of densification you could build out a lovely, utterly un-Blade Runner-ish town of 70,000. You’d need a planner of the calibre of Leon Krier, who master-planned Poundbury for Prince Charles. It would have to be done in a Left Coast idiom of course. And you’ve got just the person to do it in Berkeley: Christopher Alexander.

  54. “But would it be any less lovely if it were home to twice as many people, or 10 times as many even?”

    What would make it even lovelier would be teeming favelas stretching up the hillside, full of desperate poor people, ekeing out a squalid living by trading garbage with one another. That would make it truly world class.

  55. In America there is enough room for so many more people than we have now. I can’t believe how selfish we westerners can be with our land and wealth.

    So true, yet its a worldwide issue.

    I rang the South African embassy to ask when I would be receiving my share of a gold mine. They put the phone on me!

    I tried the Saudis next, they can spare an oil well I figured, why be so selfish with that wealth? After all they arent westerners. They told me to f**k off!

  56. Steve,

    Nice article, but I’m surprised by your assertion that NoCal is more heavily unionized than SoCal. I always thought SoCal was more union heavy with the entertainment industry (guilds, set builders, crafts unions, etc), port jobs (dockworkers union), more teachers, and the trade unions generally.

    I’m from NoCal and hardly notice any union offices? Silicon Valley high tech is overwhelmingly non-union, and same for the universities (Stanford, Berkeley, Santa Clara).

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  57. Mike Zwick [AKA "Dahinda"]
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    “Northern Californian was largely founded by New Englanders of Puritan descent. Southern California was largely populated by Middle Westerners, whose social roots typically stretch back to colonial Pennsylvania and to the South.” If you read the local histories of many different areas of the Midwest, you find that there is a line running roughly from Souther Nebraska to just north of Peoria, Illinois and then east, where south of this line your Midwest paradigm holds true but north of that line your Northern California model is true. North of this line, the earlest settlers were usually from New England and Upstate New York and were followed by what ever immigrant group was coming in at the time the area was settled (for much of the area this meant Scandinavinas and Germans). South of this line,(Southern Illinois Indiana and Ohio, Missouri, Kansas) the first wave of settlers were from Pennsylvania, Virginia, or the Carolinas and were followed mainly by a few Germans and Irish. Outside of large cities there was not much more immigration that followed until recent times. Peoria, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Louisville all share the same sort-of southern feel with a lot of German influence. The smaller cities like Peoria, regular waspy names dominate in you look in the phone book. The rural areas on either side of the line are very distinct with the southern parts of Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana along with Missouri and Kansas having more in common with the south and The Upper Midwest having a large New England and Scandinavian influence.

  58. Vinny,

    If you really wanted to score a hit, you’d have said “when water hits $5 a gallon”. The urban communities are walkable (surprising when its 110 degrees in the summer), and most people have horses or quads out in the rural areas.

    We would do better, I think, than NoCal who’s going to have to deal with the brown horde that’s going to erupt out of SoCal if gas ever hits that.

  59. I lived in the Bay Area for 34 of the 39 years from 1972-2011 (the other five years were spent in other, decidely inferior parts of the once-Golden State), and I still don’t know where “Burlingame” is supposed to be. I just thought that might amuse some of y’all. It amuses me, at any rate.

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  60. NorCal used to be heavily unionized in roughly the Jack London / Harry Bridges era. It would be interesting to know more about the subject.

  61. Cloudcastler above is right. NorCal intentionally sabotaged SoCal, most obviously over Prop. 187. When voters twenty years ago overwhelmingly approved Prop. 187 to discourage massive illegal immigration (80+% Mexican and other Latin American, remember, which had already made Los Angeles into the second-largest Mexican city (by actual Mexican-citizen population) in the world, growing by the early 80′s at 1/3 of a million people annually) California’s leftists colluded with a crooked Federal judge to scupper the law (the trial-court judge suspended the law “temporarily” then delayed ruling in the case concerning it for three years, until SoCal supporters Governor Pete Wilson and Attorney General Dan Lungren were about to leave office so NorCal Attorney General Bill Lockyer and hard-left Governor Gray Davis could nullify Prop. 187 by “settling” the appeal, though their oaths of office required them to defend it). Just last month (June 2014) NorCal politicians trumpeted their plan to repeal the (inoperative, remember) words of Prop. 187 to commemorate and drive home the defeat of California’s ordinary citizens (check out the crowing of “Irvis Orozco, a UC Davis student and Undocumented Student Activist,” who is proud that he’s getting a UC education at the expense of citizens whose own children are denied one by UC’s affirmative action (excuse me, “diversity programs”) in favor of illegal aliens).

    SoCal was a paradise before the 1980′s and NorCal folks were furious about it. They hated SoCal’s beaches and swimming pools and gardens and illegal freeway racing and high-paying jobs in aerospace and movies and TV and computers and manufacturing; they burned with envy as they watched TV shows like Emergency! and The Rockford Files (or even Sanford and Son!) which showed how wonderful life in SoCal was then. The NorCal folks had considered themselves morally- and otherwise-superior since Gold Rush days and were really quite upset when the rest of the world started to view SoCal as the place to go rather than NorCal (home of the Zebra killers and the Black Panthers who flourished amid the decaying remants of NorCal’s maritime, fishing, lumber/paper, herding, and other “old-line” industries).

    Like Steve Sailer, we must recognize NorCal’s successful demolition of SoCal, as bitter as it seems to those of us who lived in paradise before NorCal made us kiss it goodbye (thank-you, Eagles). Indeed, NorCal sowed SoCal’s fields with salt in the form of endless hordes of illiterate, feckless immigrants so that all the “new-line” industries, including digital Hollywood, were forced to migrate to NorCal because their high-IQ founders and employees want to live in towns with bookstores and unclogged hospital emergency rooms, where tax money pays for local amenities rather than supporting imported paupers.

  62. According to, here are the “non-hispanic white” (nhw) and “hispanic or latino” (hl) percentages of the populations of the following California counties.

    Bay Area:

    Alameda: 34.1 nhw 22.5 hl
    Contra Costa: 47.8 nhw 24.4 hl
    Marin: 72.8 nhw 15.5 hl
    Napa: 56.4 nhw 32.2 hl
    San Francisco: 41.5 nhw 15.4 hl
    San Mateo: 46.3 nhw 27.6 hl
    Santa Clara: 35.2 nhw 26.9 hl
    Solano: 40.8 nhw 24.0 hl
    Sonoma: 66.1 nhw 24.9 hl

    Central Valley:

    Kern [Bakersfield]: 38.6 nhw 49.2 hl
    Fresno: 32.7 nhw 50.3 hl
    Sacramento: 48.4 nhw 21.6 hl
    San Joaquin [Stockton]: 35.9 nhw 38.9 hl

    Southern California:

    Imperial: 13.7 nhw 80.4 hl
    Los Angeles: 27.8 nhw 47.7 hl
    Orange: 44.1 nhw 33.7 hl
    Riverside: 39.7 nhw 45.5 hl
    San Bernardino: 18.5 nhw 60.8 hl
    San Diego: 48.5 nhw 32.0 hl
    Ventura: 48.7 nhw 40.3 hl

  63. Thanks for those percentages, Olav, but let’s remember that there are around 8 million people in Los Angeles County versus 1.5 million in Santa Clara County (by far the most populous Bay Area county). Indeed, there are more people (immigrants, many illegal, and their offspring) living in non-English-speaking households in SoCal than the total population of NorCal, or pretty close.

  64. In 2003, one third (33%) of Los Angeles County residents were illiterate in English (follow link for statistical range); many were illiterate in their native languages as well. Even in 2003 that was well over two million English illiterates in Los Angeles County. The situation is likely worse now because US citizens have been fleeing SoCal for less benighted places like Oregon.

  65. says:
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    Kevin O’Keeffe is so right. Starting in 1954, I lived in Palo Alto, then Los Gatos, then Pebble Beach.
    Burlingame was just a name, and one certainly knew no-one who actually lived there.
    Woodside we knew, and Atherton; South San Francisco we could place (duh).
    But the real no man’s land was whatever it was that lay on the other side of the Bay before one arrived in Berkeley. To this day I can name precisely none of what I suppose must be called the towns or cities along that route (Fullerton maybe?).
    Anyway Mr O’Keeffe, I too found your reflection both telling and (very) amusing.

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  66. says:
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    ref: more like . . . Bangladesh?

    Exactly so! E.g., over the past decade or two, the previously elite, but quite lovely Gulshan residential district of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka was completely transformed from relatively modest detached housing into high-rises. The original iteration of Gulshan was, IIRC, based on architectural planning models provided by American foundations and NGOs, while the high-desnity conversion was almost completely-market motivated. (The new high rises are also occupied primarily by the Bangladeshi elite, with a minority going to the international bien-pensant types, who have always done quite well by doing good in Bangladesh.)

  67. “Kevin O’Keeffe is so right. Starting in 1954, I lived in Palo Alto, then Los Gatos, then Pebble Beach.”

    I actually moved to Los Gatos my own darn self, in 1972, so we may have been neighbors. I’ll always think of the Lark Avenue area as “home,” even though I now reside in South Dakota.

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