I am an avid subscriber to a lot of magazines, and one of my favorites is New York Magazine.
There are a lot of interesting news pieces in it, written very thoughtfully. I’m just now getting around to reading the “Best of New York” issue from a few weeks ago—it’s busy around here—and I read the piece called “Is San Francisco New York?” with a lot of interest, and see some parallels in the way New Orleans is blowing up these days economically, especially in real estate.
This article details why some people are decamping New York and moving to San Francisco, with “its wealth more impressive, its infatuation with power and status more blinding.”
San Francisco is the city hub for booming tech sector, awash in start-ups that sell for billions after barely being in business for six months. Both New York and San Francisco have always been enormously expensive place to live, but now, it’s ridiculous.
And what has happened there is that if you’re a normal person who isn’t part of a tech-booming company making six figures (even in an entry-level position)—well, you may be out of luck. I fail to see how anyone who works, let’s say as a secretary, or in a restaurant, can possibly make enough money to live in either of these cities.
I had a long conversation with a local musician/engineer/producer yesterday. He bought a house uptown in 2006, and scrimped and saved his money to build his own recording studio behind his house.
It’s only eight years later, and it would be totally impossible for him to do that now.
New Orleans is touting itself as a “tech heaven” and attracting people like crazy to the city. Can’t be a bad thing, since we had a relatively low cost of living, affordable housing and rentals, and of course, a lifestyle and culture to die for. How many techies are decamping to NOLA?
But boy, is that changing. Being a real estate junkie, I’m constantly looking at properties around the city, renovating them in my mind. Last week, I noticed a small house just around the corner from us was on the market for $419,000. Now, it’s only 1700 square feet, it’s a nice renovation, and it’s in Central City.
Priced over $400K?? My jaw dropped.
Obviously from a property owner’s standpoint, having nearby property blow up in a sales price sounds pretty good: that means that our property is theoretically going to be worth more. But does that now mean that Central City is eventually going to become the next Bywater—with prices so expensive no one but rich people can live there?
One of the most charming and livable things about New Orleans is that there’s a real mix of social classes: middle class and poor people living in the vicinity of the more affluent. It’s always been that way. This is where our culture comes from. This is where our joie de vivre comes from. It’s where our social lack of inhibition—and friendliness—comes from. Our willingness to share.
We don’t want to turn into a city of rich and super-rich people who think their money gives them privileges and power that they don’t deserve, just because they have money. We don’t want to be New York or San Francisco.
Today I read the latest about the neighborhood association (always trouble) on Newcomb Boulevard that put up a fence in 2006 to create a cul-de-sac to prevent others from using the street as a short cut from St. Charles Avenue to Freret Street. Ostensibly, to “keep their children safe.” Now they want to not only keep the fence; they are offering to buy the street. Instant gated community! So far the city is opposed, but they are continuing to fight for their “right” to buy the street.
All it takes is enough money, people, and you too can run out neighbors who have lived there for generations, buy a street so you can keep your children safe and keep all that traffic and parking away, and finally turn New Orleans into the Disneyland all the naysayers have been predicting for years.
You wanna live here? Educate people. Support the culture. Live next door to people poorer than you and befriend them. This is what makes New Orleans real and true and authentic.
Gated communities have no place in a big city. Neither does money that ends up destroying the fabric of our culture through snobbery and elitism.