A moratorium on progress


My friend Johnny, who lives in Seattle, tells the story of the day years ago when he saw an older woman standing on a hillside near his house, watching while bulldozers knocked down trees and tore up part of the hill to put in a freeway extension. He was pretty new to town, so he asked the woman what was going on.

She shook her head, and with a bitter smile, said: "Progress."

If you want to look at the environmental history of the United States, you can pretty much define most of our problems as an obsession with that sort of "progress." In the postwar Bay Area, "progess" meant turning farmland and open space into suburban housing developments, building more freeways to connect the commuters to downtown San Francisco, and erecting tall buildings in the city to fill with workers from the burbs.

At the time, those crazy people who opposed that vision were told they were opponents of progress. Now, we celebrate what they've saved.

In other words, not all change is good, not all development is progress, and the march of capitalism doesn't always take us in the right direction

So please, Chuck Nevius: You can oppose a one-year moratorium on Valencia Street restaurants if you want, but don't give me crap like this:

The same transition seems to be happening along Valencia Street. My guess is they will learn the same lesson as Noe - you can't put a moratorium on progress.

Is it progress to turn a diverse shopping district into a monocrop of one type of business? Or is it prudent to do what we pay city planners to do, and ... plan? The restaurant limit in Noe Valley worked when it was instituted, a long time ago, when people who lived there wanted to keep shoe repair places and other community-serving merchants on 24th Street. When it was no longer needed or effective, it was repealed. All we're talking about on Valencia is ONE YEAR, to give people a chance to think about the future of their neighborhood.

Progress. Bah humbug.




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