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Ten Annoying Things About San Francisco

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Last time, we considered ten great things about San Francisco. Let's now ponder some local annoyances.

Is there a place where drivers are more unforgiving, hateful, and vicious toward their fellow motorists than here? We lean on our horns if the mom with kids in the car in front doesn't move a millisecond after the light changes. We scream with rage when the octogenarian at Trader Joe's is too slow and cautious exiting the parking space we want. We move through our lives, most of us with good intentions, free and healthy in this beautiful city, cursing, spitting and shaking our fists at one another. What is everyone so angry about (or is it narcissistic rage)?

It's a tired cliché to rail against prices in San Francisco, but the cost of living still permeates the lives of all but our richest denizens. From a $3,200 two-bedroom with paper walls, leaky windows and a kitchen that was modern in 1949 to a decent private high school costing $36,000 a year, there's no point in protesting market forces. However, it's the $8.99 you pay for a stale pre-made cheese sandwich in the financial district and $5 to launder a dress shirt on Sacramento that makes you wonder if there is such a thing as a bargain in San Francisco.

We like to be different in San Francisco and we think our kids are extra special. You don't pay $1.6 million for a three bedroom in Noe Valley only to move a kid named Bob or Sally into the nursery. The roll call at a San Francisco preschool is more apt to include Declan, Keegan, Balthazar, and Poet. It's true, a guy named Barack Obama got himself elected president, but it's not likely Coyote Lemongrass will. And can we have a moratorium on Zoe and Zach, at least for a while to thin the ranks?

New York has Nathan's, Gray's Papaya and the ubiquitous dirty-water dog for two bucks on every street corner. The Windy City has the sublime Vienna Beef Chicago dog, dragged through the garden. Pink's in Los Angeles, serves the only chilidog worthy of the name, a masterpiece of texture and taste. The links in San Francisco are too thick, the buns too hard, the fixings limp and average. Where is San Francisco's hot dog?

You can't seriously put a bumper sticker that says "Keep Tahoe Blue" on a Range Rover that gets 12 mpg, especially if you are regularly driving it back and forth to Tahoe. You can't "Visualize World Peace" while you're flipping off the biker in the bike lane. And you probably shouldn't wear a Haas Business School t-shirt to a Vipassana sit. We're too easy on ourselves in San Francisco.

As we discussed in our last installment, San Francisco's distinct neighborhoods are a cool aspect of the city. But can we stop with the idiot hipster acronyms like SOMA, NOPA, and FIDI? What's next, NOSAC for North of Sacramento?

For all the drama, rivalry and fiefdoms, you would think the political class in San Francisco wielded real power. But after all the fighting, campaigning and name-calling, we find ourselves after forty years with the same center-left government straddling a line between progressive ideals and economic real-politic -- which actually is great, so let's ratchet down the drama and just make Willie Brown mayor for life (officially).

San Francisco is the cultural center of a metropolitan area with over seven million residents, thirty Fortune 500 companies, two of the best universities on the planet, and a serious share of the world's brainpower. But since way before the technological and market shifts that have ravaged the news business, our dailies have been way smaller and more provincial than a city with our aspirations deserves.

San Francisco used to be a mecca of flower power, gay freakdom, and the political fringe. There was a time when you definitely didn't want to walk mom through the Castro. But Jerry Garcia and Harvey Milk are long gone, Dianne Feinstein supported the invasion of Iraq, and mom loves the classy boutiques run by the clean-cut gentlemen on Castro Street. What happened?

We are surrounded on three sides by gorgeous coastline, including three miles of sandy beach bordering a healthy, vibrant ocean. Unfortunately, the water temperature hovers at a hypothermic fifty degrees Fahrenheit pretty much all the time, which is far too cold for swimming. On the other hand, if it were twenty degrees warmer, the Sunset District would be Manhattan Beach and who would want that?