San Diego Sleepy No More
San Diego might be known as "America's Finest
City," but it's no longer the secret paradise it
once was. I don't have the time right now to
research the data, but a travel professional I
recently spoke to estimated that San Diego's
population has tripled since 1984. Personally, I
think that's a conservative estimate.
I moved up to Los Angeles in 1999, and put up
with the crowds and congestion of such a giant
metropolis for three years. My thoughts often
turned to the idealized memory I had of San Diego:
its beautiful scenery, vast open space and
relatively low population. Sure, even in 1999,
development in San Diego had already reached an
alarming rate. Wild mesas I once hiked as a
teenager have long since been paved over with
cookie-cutter homes. But the city still retained
its sleepy, spread-out, serene character.
That character had all but vanished when I moved
back last year.
While the city's scenery remains, traffic has
reached critical, nearly L.A.-level proportions.
The rapid pace of development has continued, has
perhaps even increased. People continue to move
here in droves (more than a few, I'm sure,
attracted by the city's climate and scenery as seen
in Super Bowl broadcasts). Housingnot just
affordable housing, but all housinghas become
scarce, contributing to a huge bubble in an already
over-inflated real estate market. I was shocked by
what a difference three years made.
I've lived in San Diego my whole life (with a
few absences here and there for college, work or
the military), so the enchantment of this city will
probably always be in my blood. Despite the
ever-increasing crowds, it's still a lovely city
(as I testified to here).
But its personality has irrevocably changed. I
don't feel like a native anymore. I feel the same
as any of the thousands (millions?) of transplants
who now call San Diego home. Like them, I no longer
live in the city where I grew up.
Development note: I've
noticed that this site doesn't look like it should
in Netscape Navigator. Rather than waste time
jury-rigging it to look right in a
soon-to-be-obsolete browser, I'll just add the
cliché "This site best viewed with Internet
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