Easy Living - 11/5/2010
I think that San Diego, above all, is an easy city to live in.
You have probaqbly heard that the weather is amazing -- sunny and between 50-90 F year-round, with perhaps 10 days of rain and 10 humid/grey days a year, but you can almost predict at 2 or 3 the sun will come out and the weather will be -- perfect.
I think the weather produces the atmosphere in S.D. (ouch!). But overall the city seems relaxed, beautiful, interesting, diverse, educated and a lot of fun. I live less than 30 min from the beaches and a couple hours from skiing. In between are S.D.'s universities, amazing views (not only of nature but of wealth and all that goes with it, as well as the amazing treasure of Balboa Park).
This is a physically active town -- a town that goes to the gym -- not just private gyms but the state-of-the-art, huge and welcoming YMCA's -- then either to the beach for scuba, skiing, boating, surfing, sailing and more, or professional and community sports, or community-established groups to do everything from pitch in to recycle to explore the more exotic aspects of meditation.
There is a sense of community here -- when a destructive fire left many citizens homeless, huge arenas were converted to help them, their children, the elderly and their pets. So many people took supplies to these stadiums they were oversupplied on day 1 and supplies were being re-routed. Volunteers went to help in any way possible, with their hands, vehicles, money. Municipally organized and spontaneous gestures. [With an air of unreality, George Bush flew in on day 3, looked at the amazing effort and the tragedy, and gave FEMA a "job well done." Where they were doing that job, we never found out.]
In tourist and travel magazines San Diego is usually in the top two or three cities ranked by "hospitality & friendliness" or "attractiveness of the people" (though I do not claim to add to the latter). Hard to know these measures, but when I first came to San Diego I made a few driving errors, and even when cars waited for me to figure out what was up (or right or left) no one honked their horn or shouted obscenities. Coming from Philadelphia, a city with roughly the same population, I had expected small arms play. I asked people on the street for directions and they stopped and drew maps for me!
Of course we're used to visitors with Disney, our professional sports teams, Six Flags, horseracing, the Navy and Marine bases and more, it's important to know how to make almost anyone feel welcome.
San Diego is also very expensive, not so much as San Francisco or Manhattan, but it is definitely not cheap. Our city budget gets worse and worse and we are always in municipal financial crisis. There are water shortage problems that can only worsen. If you want world-class art, music, opera -- it's easier to find in L.A. than in San Diego. There is amazing diversity here, but also a surprising amount of open prejudice against Mexicans, gays, the overweight and others. As of this writing the jobless rate is higher than most cities and jobs are moving south by the thousands.
On balance, our problems are serious but not as bad as those of many cities, and our assets are considerable and widely available to our population.
And you just won't believe the weather.