Salam writes in
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 Countyoverlooking 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
Sausalitohas 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
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
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 Californiasociety. 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
Northern Californianwas largely founded by
New Englanders of Puritandescent. Southern
Californiawas largely populated by
Middle Westerners, whose social roots typically stretch back to colonial
Pennsylvaniaand to the
South. By the 1950s, it was the paradise of the common man.
Californiawent 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 Californiawas much more conservative, as the popularity of
Ronald Reagantestify. But in the 1990s, much of the
GOPbase began to be driven into the
Great Basinby illegal immigration-driven population growth. Southern
Republicanremnant, in its gated communities, is coming around to the
Northernliberal point of view.
Californiaforestalled much of the dreariness of
Hispanicareas 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
Californiansspearheaded the environmentalist movement—which had the unspoken but not-unintended consequence of driving up property values even further.
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.
Northernelitism, private enterprise-style. The exquisite oceanfront
Del Monte Forestis 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
Beach, the famous public course with a $395 greens fee; Cypress
Point, the ultra-private “Sistine
Chapel of Golf;” Spyglass
Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s best course; and four others. Tellingly,
Northern Californiahas preserved most of its best golf courses from the
Golden Ageof golf architecture (1911-1933). But
Southern Californiahas lost many such courses, like
GeorgeC. Thomas’ Fox
West Los Angeles, to housing during the post-War boom.
As a native
Northern Californiansnobbishness has always gotten on my nerves. Nonetheless, the payoff has become undeniable. Rather than being inundated with unskilled immigrants from one country,
Northern Californiamainly attracts skilled immigrants from a wide diversity of countries. The lesson for the
GOPis 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 Californianliberal way: environmentalism, unionism, historical preservationism,
NIMBYism—indeed, the whole panoply of
Democratic Partypolicies at the state and local level.