New Year's Day brings the illusion of a fresh start. We have made it past another dizzying holiday season and witnessed another year in which the ever-widening affordability gap seemed to dominate local headlines. Almost all of us by now know former San Francisco citizens who lost the ability to keep up with the rising cost of living and decamped for less expensive parts of the Bay Area or headed farther afield, giving up on the region or even the state.
With each new departure, The City loses something, and it has been hard to see them go. And even for those who remain, no matter their income bracket, there seems to be a maddening ratcheting upward of the stress levels of making a go of it in this city. This new year certainly will not change that trend.
But that is far from the only story line of the ever-evolving city. There have also been plenty of newcomers, not all of them seeking tech gold, but yes, there have definitely been those, too. And we should welcome them all and hope they find what they are seeking here. We pride ourselves on being a sanctuary city, which means all are invited in. We try to reserve judgment and provide what comfort we can to make them feel at home. Many won't stay, either by choice or necessity, but that's another story. We have always been a city of transplants and transients. And for the time they are here, be it months or decades, we hope they will be good for The City and that The City will be good for them. That is our New Year's wish for 2015.
This city is far from where it should be in almost every way, but the good news is that we have more than enough people — residents, workers, public servants, visitors — who love this city and they clamor with ideas and energy to make this city, our city, live up to its ideals and potential. Of course, those ideas often conflict with one another and, as a result, we fight and argue about the future of San Francisco. That's as it should be.
This past year, such conflicts have flared up over who deserves time on Mission playgrounds, how to care for our neediest citizens, building on the waterfront, the merits of hailing a taxi versus ordering an Uber driver, the legality of Airbnb, among many others. The City's story is being written every day.
These battles not only fill our pages here at The San Francisco Examiner with great stories about where The City is heading, it also serves as a reminder that part of the civic experiment requires us to be engaged in the debate, even if, and maybe especially if, we feel at risk of losing our place in it.
Our pages here at The Examiner have certainly been full of stories this past year about people searching for ways to remain part of this city and continue to have a voice in its future.
For instance, this week, we ran a front-page story about how Rudy Corpuz Jr., a former gang member-turned-anti-violence leader, was able to buy the Howard Street building where he founded the United Playaz youth center two decades ago. With help from a stabilization fund, an account paid into by developers in the Rincon Hill area to offset impacts on housing and other costs in the neighborhood, and private donations, the center was able to secure its place in The City at a time when many other nonprofits are being priced out of it along with many of the people they seek to serve. This past Sunday, the paper also concluded a five-part series profiling local nonprofits and their struggles to care for those in the city most in need of help.
And this coming Sunday, we feature a story about a local man who turned down a chance to cash in on developing his empty lot in Potrero Hill, instead opting for a tax break as part of a new city program to encourage more urban agriculture. It is now a garden where anyone can come, a small oasis in which to take a breath in this ever-changing city. Now, neighbors stroll though the plant-lined paths and introduce themselves to one another.
So this year, let's dispense with the usual resolutions, which tend to falter by Valentine's Day, and instead take a moment to imagine how The City might become a better version of itself and hope that the coming year brings us all opportunities to work toward that.