Why North Beach works

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It's time to piss some more people off, esp. the folks who think that highrise housing=urban density=good.

The Chronicle just announced that the American Planning Association has designated North Beach in SF as one of the best neighborhoods in American Why?

The 41,000-member organization took note of the atmospheric collage of low buildings around such historic gathering places as Grant Avenue and Washington Square. They also acknowledged the tenacious way that residents have fought to keep out chain stores and development projects that might water down "its eclectic mix of mom-and-pop shops, nightclubs and polyglot character (that) make it one of the city's most unique and authentic communities," according to the announcement.

What's the message here? North Beach is dense -- one of the densest parts of San Francisco. But it's a real neighborhood, with local stores, locally owned businesses and local character.

And there are strict rules against chain stores.

Now check out the new highrises south of Market. The stores are all chains. There's no neighborhood feel. It's like someone dropped in a bunch of luxury hotels in a faux San Francisco setting.

If the city wants to build density, fine: But build real neighborhoods, with a mix of people, with local businesses, parks, street lfe. The highrises we're building don't do that.

Okay, commenters: let the attacks begin.