sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

October 7, 2011

SF: The New Urban Parenting Paradise, per Parents Magazine

I previously wrote about politics in Parents magazine.  As it happen, the October 2011 issue of the large circulation periodical for impressionable moms is not without a its dose of politics, thinly veiled.  Under the health rubric Parents featured a top 10 “Smart Places to Settle Down”.  “Smart” as in “smart water” or “smart diplomacy,” I gather.

This top 10 lists cities in mostly deep blue urban locales.  I suppose a little house on the prairie is no longer a smart place to settle down.  The #1 city is… (drum roll) San Francisco.  Here is the scorecard:

POPULATION 744,041

MEDICAL CARE A

HEALTHY SCHOOLS A

AIR AND WATER A+

OUTDOOR FUN A

FAMILY SAFETY A-

Parents elaborated:

The City by the Bay rose to the top of our list in part because of its gutsy moves to bring healthier foods to schools.  San Fran booted soda and high-fat, empty-calorie food out of its schools in 2004 (five years before the state did) and was one of the first places in the country to push for school gardens.  Salad bars — stocked with California-grown produce and whole grain breads — debuted in 25 city schools in 2007; now at least half have them.  “Students are definitely eating more fruits and vegetables at lunchtime since we installed the bars,” says Ed Wilkins, school nutrition service director.

San Francisco also goes the extra mile to keep kids active, running 182 playgrounds (including Golden Gate Playground, with one-of-a-kind slides and a sand-castle-building area), 82 recreation centers, and 60 soccer fields.  The Sunday Streets program creates miles of car-free roads during designated times so families can go outside without traffic worries.  “My 3 year-old squealed when she rode her bike down the middle of the steep roads near our house,” says Sumi Das, a spokesperson for the 4,300-member Golden Gate Mothers group.

So San Francisco, apparently, is the poster city for “Let’s Move!”  Or perhaps Michelle Obama gets her ideas from San Francisco.

Many things make a city a good place to settle down, like decent neighbors, good schools, low crime rate, affordable housing.  Some of the reasons are health-related: Clean air and water, and so are good doctors.

But school lunches?  If you don’t like what’s served at the school cafeteria, pack your own lunch.  Problem solved!  What I find infuriating is that the talk of “healthy” schools is substituting the talk of good schools.  Do we still know what constitutes a good school?  I’m amazed by all locals who are in awe (or at least claim to be in awe) of schools with garden patches.  The small ones growing pumpkins are cute and all, but in reality it’s but a botany lab.  They don’t provide excellent education, and, contrary to the claims of neo-hippies, they don’t raise a citizen.

Also, maybe if we cut back on lavish student lunches, we won’t need “school nutrition services directors”, thus cutting money spent on educational bureaucracy and saving local taxpayer some dough, thus making a town a smart place to settle down.

I’m not sure what was “gutsy” about SF “moves to bring healthier food to schools”.  Generally San Francisco voters will support any totalitarian measure to drive out business, especially in the name of food.  Think of their notorious Happy Meal ban.

“Outdoor fun” in San Francisco does exist — for grown ups.  Well, depending on what we mean by “fun”.  I recently talked to a San Francisco refugee mom who used to live near Dolores Park.  Every morning parents like her had to literally sift through the sand to get the hypodermics out.  I doubt the other 181 playgrounds are much better.

dolores park scene

Hunky Jesus contest at Dolores Park.

If I were raising my kids in the City, I’d discourage them from spending time outdoors.  With all the nude men walking around parents should be reluctant to allow their children to walk the streets.  I’m not being panicky here; those naked men are actually a pretty common site these days.  DH only works in SF once a week, but he’s seen one already.

Pathetic San Francisco doesn’t even dare to tell nudists to cover up.  It merely tries to force them to bring a towel to sit on for… health reasons.  Parents magazine doesn’t factor in the health risk of sitting on a chair where a naked butt recently rested.  Actually, infectious diseases play no role in its selection of of healthy cities.  Considering that San Francisco is a sanctuary city, it probably has its fare share of open TB cases.  Although SF, wisely, has a very stringent immunization policy, it doesn’t specifically cover TB.

Another reason why a parent probably don’t want to frequent to San Francisco with kids in tow are the homeless.  I suspect Karen Cicero who compiled the top 10 list never visited her #1 city.  The homeless are everywhere, and many of them obviously not well.  I was thinking about taking Yelena to San Francisco to ride a cable car, but, I guess I forgot just how nasty it is.  I recently had to run an errand there, and I can just hear her asking “What happened to her?” about every single bag lady. I don’t want to raise a sheltered child.  When she’s old enough I’ll take her to the City and explain homelessness.  But right now she’s four.

Homeless in SF

SF street scene. This young couple with a mellow dog are rather well-groomed given the circumstances.

“Car-free roads” is a very Bay Area idea.  We hate cars here, of course, because they are too American and they are, like, the root of all evil.  A nice thing about suburban or semi-urban parenting are easy logistics.  If I have a new baby and urgently need a pack of diapers or detergent or a thermometer or whatever else is absolutely necessary this very moment, I don’t want to be stuck in traffic or go on a long detour because my street is closed.  Instead of creating multiple inconveniences for others, city-dwellers need to accept traffic as a part of their lives.  And personally, I’d hate to explain to a 3-year-old that bicycling in the middle of the street is OK, but only on Sundays.

SF traffic is particularly bad.  The city is notorious for car accidents and traffic fatalities.  In fact, San Francisco tops the California list of traffic fatalities by miles driven or the population.  I suspect the high statistic might have something to do with the sanctuary city status.  Many accidents involve MUNI buses, although the City finally reigned in the frivolous drivers on its payroll by installing MUNI cameras.  Drivers around here are by no means the only ones injuring and killing pedestrians.  Our bikers are unbelievably obnoxious.  This July one of them killed a woman.  How’s that for “family safety”?

killer bicycle

25-year-old cyclist was riding this bike when he fatally injured a woman.

San Fran tries to present itself as a colorful urban center where bringing up kids is cool, a kind of Paris on the Pacific.  In reality, outside the Sunset and Richmond Districts where families still settle, and that are San Francisco in name only, the City is a playground for the rich and the single.  Parents are voting with their feet, moving out of the city to more family friendly areas, like the East Bay.

I was curious about Parents “Shape Up!” list.  On it was Newark New Jersey, where the residents only have 16 playgrounds.  No word on whether or not it’s safe for tots to play there or how big an average backyard in Newark is.  Because many SF families have no backyards.  Also on the list was Lubbock, Taxes for not having a bike-helmet law, because nobody ever raised a child without bike-helmet laws.

And with this thought I’m leaving you for Yom Kippur.

UPDATE 08/04/2012: Linked by Leslie Loftis over at PJ Media.  Thanks!

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16 Comments »

  1. Ah San Francisco, the liberal “paradise.”

    And by paradise I mean filthy, unlivable and filled with named men in public.

    But hey, the inmates of San Fran eat green….stuff. So I guess that makes it okay.

    The saving grace of NYC is, apart from Manhattan, the city is actually not that liberal.

    Enjoy your holiday!

    Comment by Infidel de Manahatta — October 7, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  2. This is the biggest crock of s**t I’ve heard. Truly absurd. SF is expensive, people piss on the streets, it has the MOST DANGEROUS streets in the country for pedestrians, and you can’t park anywhere.

    I might actually write them a letter! How’s that for outrage?

    Seriously… this will have to make a blog post for me next Wednesday.

    Comment by Harrison — October 7, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

  3. Sing it sister! Caitlin Flanagan had an article a few years back on gardening classes in schools. Hold on a sec…

    Comment by AHLondon — October 7, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  4. http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/09/reynolds-law.html Link to article on gardening in CA public schools there

    Comment by AHLondon — October 7, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

  5. Infidel,
    I suspect even Manhattan is not that that liberal, considering that NYC gave Giuliani two terms. While other American cities cleaned up their act 10+ years ago, SF just can’t.

    Harrison,
    Crock of s**t it is. Thank you for the link.

    AHLondon,
    What a terrific smack-down of Edible Schoolyard!
    Food in the Bay Area is certainly great. Unfortunately, people here fetishize it, and it’s really a sign of how empty our lives are. I guess in the 50s foods were kind of plain, but people lived far more meaningful lives… And naked people didn’t roam the streets of San Francisco.

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — October 8, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

  6. ha ha ha ha! Nope, nobody ever raised kids without helmet laws, snort. Fantastic closing sentence, Missy. The cherry on top of a great post. Here’s another example of how ridiculous these parenting mags tend to be. Recently, I was reading one (can’t remember which but they are all the same aren’t they?) whilst waiting thru the boys’ piano lessons, and one page featured the results of an online poll question: should a law be passed, banning smoking in your home if you have children?

    Before I could get passed the gall that folks had to even consider such a question, I had to chew on the poll results: 82% were in favor. I don’t know how many voted. I don’t want to know.

    cheers!
    Linda

    Comment by nooneofanyimport — October 9, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  7. My parents live in SF, so we visit every summer from NYC and, I must say, I don’t find the city very kid friendly at all. Yes, there are playgrounds, but you have to drive to all of them. In NYC, we are just steps from playgrounds and Central Park. In addition, you have to drive to the store, you have to drive the kids to school (which, I’ve been told has become so much so much harder after everything was unzoned; I met one mom who lives around West Portal who told me they were assigned a school in Hunter’s Point!), you drive to the museums, to the movies, basically anywhere, and the public transportation is not particularly convenient to other parts of the city (It used to take me an hour and two buses to get from home in the Richmond to my high-school when I lived there)… In NYC my 12 year old travels around by himself (yes, by subway! Without a helmet!), we walk almost everywhere, and anything we need is steps away from our front door. I suspect were we to move to SF, my family life would become a lot more complicated.

    Comment by Alina Adams — October 10, 2011 @ 11:38 am

  8. Linda,
    Such attitudes are pretty common here. It’s illegal in California to smoke in a car with young children. A year ago I had to retake the DMV written exam, and I had a question about it. I failed it, although, I suppose, it would be pretty simple to figure out from the way the question was worded. I just couldn’t believe it.

    Alina,
    Public transportation in SF is not that great, and certainly families need to drive, and there is no parking. Sure there are great restaurants in SF that are technically child-friendly, but you’ll just never get there with kids. The hills are another problem. I can’t imagine pushing a double stroller, which is what I had to do for a year, up and down the hill. And climbing the hills with a Bjorn — forget it.
    I was raised in a city bigger than SF, and I actually like the idea of urban parenting, but SF is just not it.

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — October 10, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  9. […] magazine is reliably full of bad ideas.  The latest one is their take on multicultural education: How to Raise a Global Kid.  Lets take […]

    Pingback by How Not to Raise a Global Kid « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — December 15, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  10. […] The self-righteous biker type is very familiar here in San Francisco where bikers are known to kill pedestrians and where the entitled bikers organize events to block city […]

    Pingback by Portlandia: Stuff White People Like on Cable TV « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — January 13, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  11. Wow! i can’t believe it! Uppity, tight as*ed mommies gettin’ their panties all in a proverbial bunch because we don’t force church services and PTA meetings down everyone’s throat here in the GREATEST city in the world. Don’t want your little johnny or josie exposed to the hardcore reality of poverty try taking them on a stroll through the bronx sweetheart! don’t want your poor, innocent little tykes seeing nude men(or women) then try relocating to an amish colony! Reality is what it is sweethearts. if you’re THAT scared of it DON’T HAVE ANY DAMN KIDS!! Peace out! San Francisco LONG MAY YOU STAND!!!

    Comment by Evolutionisfact — June 10, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    • Thank you for illustrating my point. I have to chuckle when San Franciscans say that nudists are “urban reality’. Just try doing it in Paris. And in all honestly,nudism is a recent phenomena here too.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 10, 2012 @ 9:34 am

  12. […] a few days ago, a fellow loftily named Evolutionisfact stopped by, and after reading a post or two commented on the one about SF not being family friendly: Wow! i can’t believe it! Uppity, tight as*ed mommies gettin’ their panties all in a proverbial […]

    Pingback by Leftie Says: “Raus!” « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — June 14, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  13. […] “They ridicule us, threaten us, heckle us. On Wednesday, they sent us many wishes that we would choke and die on our chicken sandwiches. What about the hate that we feel from those actions? Are we supposed to keep our heads down in the face of actual hatred because others feel hatred when we defend ourselves? What actions would society allow of Christians under these circumstances?” […]

    Pingback by The Progressive/Regressive Mask Is Slipping…Fascism Rears To The Fore…Yeah ! Chick Fil A…Commentary By Adina Kutnicki | Adina Kutnicki — August 6, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  14. […] It’s not just that we, mothers, live on tight schedules; the City is notorious for its adult ambiance.  Parents and kids are fleeing to the suburbs, the Pacific North-West and just about anywhere […]

    Pingback by War on Women: SF | sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — March 6, 2013 @ 10:07 am


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