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Thread: A Question for Bay Area Cyburbians

  1. #1
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    A Question for Bay Area Cyburbians

    I am having repetitive dreams that my wife and I are going to wind in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have visited the area twice in my lifetime, did most of the touristy stuff, and I have relatives in San Jose. My question is: is the Bay Area as overly and overtly political, even in common everyday life, as its reputation throughout the rest of the country leads me to believe, or this impression false? In other words, yes it's liberal and I probably won't see eye-to-eye politically with an overwhelming majority of the population. I'm okay with that. My family (including the San Jose relatives) are all originally from Chicago, another highly liberal enclave in the country. In Chicago, you can be happy without discussing politics and it's possible to have an apolitical social and business network. There are even opportunities for people of wide-ranging political, social, and religious beliefs to practice such beliefs comfortably without ridicule or ostracism, including more conservative politics, family values, and religious beliefs (like evangelical Christianity). It's hard to imagine there not being such opportunities given the population numbers (Chicagoland around 10 million and the Bay Area around 7.5 million). If San Francisco and Chicago types can find niches and/or be happy in Dallas-Fort Worth (population 6 million), then surely there are places for me in the Bay Area. Of course, such people don't stand a political shot in hell, but like I said, I'm okay with that. Is the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metro similar to Chicago in this regard? Or, if my dreams become reality, will my wife and I be alienated and lonely like nothing we've ever seen or experienced?
    Last edited by TexanOkie; 20 Nov 2009 at 12:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Bumping, even though it was just posted. It's a fascinating question, and I'd be curious how much of the San Francisco culture -- at least what we think of it -- is prominent in other parts of the area, especially its more urban suburbs.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    I think it seriously depends on where you live in the Bay Area. The whole "we are better than you and you must follow our lead" even when it comes to political philosophies will be found in San Francisco/Berkley and other enclaves in the north bay (north of the golden gate such as Marin, tiburon, etc). Everywhere else, I think as long as you go about your business, it doesn't really come up (especially in the peninsula, east bay, etc.). Realize this, the more east you travel (such as contra costa county, tri-valley area) the more conservative (and i use conservative loosely here), more suburban mentality you encounter. It is truly my belief that is really hard to be alienated in the Bay Area simply because there is such a large cross section of culture.

    CJC probably can give you a better insight since he actually lives there (i used to live there, and visit quite frequently since it is about an hour drive to where i usually need to get to). As for jobs, I have notice that rarely has political discussion come up, it is more along the lines of views of environment, environmental justice, density, growth, etc. is where you may find issues if you are a believer of a very "hands off" approach to planning. That's really where ideologies collide. Other than that, the area is just plain ol' tolerant of conservatives ..err.. folks like yourself
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Trust me, you'd be fine.

    The "change the world" areas: San Francisco, Berkeley, and to a smaller extent Oakland and Marin County, have large LOUD far-left groups, but the vast majority of the population of even those cities is not as far-left as many folks would believe. It wouldn't be all that hard for you to "fit in" regardless of your views, as long as you're articulate and at least relatively open-minded (based on your Cyburbia postings, I would say that you'd find many friends in the Bay Area very easily). To be honest, many of the "liberal" views in Berkeley and SF are simply because many people living in both cities are not looking to live there forever. They're still in their "change the world" stage of life. These attitudes are more muted in SF, because of the large immigrant influences. Also, while these areas are dominated by lefty groups, that isn't all that's there. Political activism is popular in both places - for all different views. One of my best friends from high school ended up in San Francisco working for a libertarian think tank, for example (the Cato Institute was founded in SF, and many others still exist here).

    The tech areas: San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and southern Alameda County, have pretty liberal social views, but are much less "in your face" than the areas around SF. If you're interested in what I would say are the "average" views of people in these areas, a good first look are the views of the Google founders.

    Most other areas are some combination of those two. Politics are more in the forefront than in other regions, but I don't think you'd find it hostile. Most people are not dismissive of the views or beliefs of others, no matter what they may personally believe. You'll find large groups of just about any kind of people here, including large evangelical churches and the like (in fact, PM me if you're ever in the area and want some suggestions for churches - my parents have attended a couple different evangelical churches while visiting me and have really liked what they experienced).

    As far as the Bay Area being like Chicago, well... The multi-decade boom in wealth in the Bay Area has had good and bad effects. There is a competitive, entrepreneurial spirit here that is unlike many other areas (in spite of the reputation for liberal views, I think you'd be pleasantly surprised at the economic centrism that generally rules most of the Bay Area - most of the craziest stuff comes from stupid state-level propositions). There seems to be a greater emphasis on education here than many other areas (all levels). There is also a greater sense of "we're better than the rest of the country" than other areas, which can get really annoying. You'll find people that can use almost any stat to "prove" that this is clearly the best place anywhere - weather stats, home prices, incomes, percentage of the populace with higher degrees, whatever. Modesty is not an area that the Bay Area would rate highly in, for better or for worse. However, in terms of finding something for everyone, yes, the Bay Area is much like Chicago.
    Last edited by CJC; 20 Nov 2009 at 1:11 PM.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Is the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metro similar to Chicago in this regard? Or, if my dreams become reality, will my wife and I be alienated and lonely like nothing we've ever seen or experienced?
    In the equally ultra-liberal Boston area, there are conservative enclaves scattered throughout the region (cop neighborhoods and far-flung suburbs). But, it still must be difficult to be a conservative in Boston, as everyone just assumes that everyone else is a liberal. Even though I am an unwavering liberal, I got a little bit sick when confronted by the closed-mindedness of Boston liberals (especially the folks from Jamaica Spain and Lamebridge).

    I now enjoy living somewhere with a even distribution of political views.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    My mistake in living in the Bay Area was not living in "The City" (SF). Instead I was much further East in San Ramon\Danville. Talk about your boring suburban small town living. I did notice a big difference between the two communities, San Ramon was much more corporate and pro-development while Danville preferred retaining that quiet town feel. If I were to do it over again, I'd live in SF or Oakland. On the political spectrum CPSURaf is correct, the further East you venture the more conservative the mindset. (This is so true in many ways). Now TexanOkie, I'm not sure if you have a family but SF is a great environment for young professionals. Raising families on the other hand? Eh...

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