I find myself not going out much these days. It’s not a case of wanting to avoid San Francisco, but more wanting to avoid a lack thereof. You see, no matter what figures may say, on the ground, there are countless vacancies and empty buildings.
Sure, my immediate Tenderloin and Mid-Market neighborhoods have vacancies. This has been the case for years now as owners are intentionally keeping them empty in order to sell them vacant in what they see to be an imminent boom. But, it’s more shocking/sad when you walk through North Beach, a vibrant, touristic neighborhood and there are endless for rent signs in spots where I remember there being old cafes and barbers just five years ago.
Owner speculation and greed obviously play in to it a great deal, but there is also the sad reality that there just aren’t a lot of businesses now. Whether driven out by prices or by the economy, San Francisco is gap-toothed where it once had a healthy smile.
The most surprising of all these empty buildings are the ones in Chinatown. Yes, Stockton & Grant streets are still always bustling, but even there you see signs advertising an available space.
Who knows where it’s headed. I’m just enjoying my apartment more.