Saturday, August 11, 2012

Octavia-Hayes: lotsa there there, no compost bin

The plaza created by the freeway demolition at Octavia and Hayes is more welcoming now. The north end seems almost more UK than U.S. in its upscale/low-density-urban environment of bright small-paned shop windows and outdoor benches. This Saturday night there were flirting couples and families. People for once weren't trying to look purposeful.

Some of the people in the mix are visibly homeless. While the community space doesn't exactly welcome people without money, it doesn't reject them either. Meanwhile better-off strollers don't seem deterred from loitering in the park for pleasure. As San Francisco goes, that counts as a relaxation of class prejudice. Because this park is a reasonably healthy public space. Likely because there's food and drink available to those who can afford it. There's there there, as Gertrude Stein didn't exactly say. Or anyway there's ice cream there. Also a beer garden. And food trucks.

The ice cream is the Smitten stuff that they mix on the spot with liquid nitrogen and it's amazing.

A small oddness inside the park: the ice cream shop, conscientiously, provides cardboard cups and Tater Ware compostable spoons. There's a compost bin in the shop to receive them. But people take their ice cream out of the store into the park. So now there's a city garbage can wedged full of compostable ice cream cups and spoons. Hello, DPW? About providing a public compost bin? (To clarify, this is actually nearest Hayes and Linden, not Hayes and Octavia.)

I suppose no surprise that the population of the beer garden has a certain homogeneity.

Then the walk home to middle South of Market from the park. Well, this is San Francisco, where economic vertigo is never far away.

A stop in the Fatted Calf charcuterie. Marvelous smoked ham and sausages. But prodigals need not apply. It's pricey.

And then, on the final block of Fell Street above Market, the ruins of the pretty courtyard and grand buildings that used to be New College Law School at 50 Fell. Across the way, the boarded-up 39 Fell drop-in center where people with nowhere to go used to have a place to sit down indoors late at night. At the end of the block, a shiny apartment building. Out of which a precise young man steps and looks about for something he expects that isn't there. A taxicab? A doorman? C'mon, this isn't New York. Not exactly.

This town is changing again. Some changes are odd, some sad and excluding, but some are good. Curious if apprehensive to see how it all turns out.

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