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Standing in front of City Lights Bookstore, looking down Columbus Avenue past Vesuvio’s bar (with Jack Kerouac Lane coming in on the right-hand side) to the Transamerica pyramid – a new building when I lived in SF in 1974.

I had read so much, on this blog and elsewhere, of how changed SF was due to its proximity to Silicon Valley and its off-the-charts rents and housing costs, and was expecting hardly to recognize it. Instead, it seemed much as it always has in the 40+ years I’ve known it: slightly shabby, about the same numbers of homeless, more condos in the Mission and on Russian Hill but not an overwhelming change, neighbourhoods like Richmond (“the avenues”) and North Beach essentially the same. San Francisco seemed to be evolving in a controlled way, at least compared with Vancouver. Another observation: there were way fewer luxury cars. Vancouver seems much wealthier.

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The Russian Hill to Pacific Heights skyline, now dotted with luxury highrises.

A recent post on this blog about real affordability indicated how well San Francisco is actually doing. With a minimum wage of $US 13, and the strong economy, what looks like a housing-price disaster…

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…is much less of a problem due to the coupling of wages with costs and the availability of good cheap transit. Second-best in the USA isn’t bad.

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But, for a Canadian carrying a pocketful of loonies, it is an expensive city.

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On the BART to SFO.