The ringing of the
alarm woke me this morning at 5:15. Usually I don't need an
alarm, but last night I set it, because I had stayed up late
watching a movie (The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit),
and I had agreed to meet my fair-weather neighbor, just back
from Palm Springs, California, at 6 for our walk. Off we went
at the appointed hour. I was dressed warmly, but my neighbor
was so bundled up he looked like he could spend winter at the
South Pole. I guess Palm Springs does that to you.
was lively as usual, and this morning it focused on the Santa
Fe city election taking place today. Two men and a woman are
challenging the incumbent mayor, a man. One of the male challengers
and the woman are considered liberals, and the other male challenger
is considered pro-development. The present mayor is considered
by many to be a fence-sitter and non-performer.
I told my neighbor
that, in my opinion, even though many former mayors and council
members have had good intentions in performing the duties of
the their office, the strictness that they have imposed on physical
changes to the city have created a economic environment that
few locales can afford. My neighbor replied that the same thing
has happened in Palm Springs, a snow-bird city. Local policies,
he said, have made things difficult for the business community,
and the cost of living expensive.
Strict and unspecified
restriction makes the cost of improved real estate expensive
to buy or rentand when exorbitant real-estate costs are
coupled with an occasional national recession, it becomes doubly
tough for the business to survive. I told my neighbor I'm not
sure who all these Shangri-Las are being built for, because
they are certainly not for most people who make their living
in Santa Fe. Building monuments of beauty is wonderful, but
only if all of us and not just a select few can enjoy them.
of a city that has the wonderful history that Santa Fe has is
a sad thing indeed, because not too long ago, one of the many
things that made this city unique is that neighborhoods contained
people of all economic and educational levels. A scientist,
janitor and a millionaire could all be neighbors; and this forced
the issue of understanding each other better. Such neighborhood
still exist, but they get fewer and fewer every year.
all the homes are of similar value, particularly in the upper-middle
income and high-income range, have both good and bad points.
Major crime problems are usually less, and the upkeep of the
homes is generally good, which in turn keeps the real-estate
values high. These are positive things.
The drawback of a
uniform neighborhood is that it's like a party where all the
guests don't necessarily know each other and there are enough
chairs for everyone to sit down. The guests will seek out people
they know with like values and interests and sit with them,
and not bother to talk to anyone they don't know. This to me
is sad, I told my neighbor, because the opportunity to learn
something different escapes those who do not venture out of
their fixed circle.
As we drew near the
French Pastry Shop, where we love to get our quota of calories
and coffee, the conversation lightened up. Though Santa Fe keeps
changing, and not necessarily for the better, I think my neighbor
and I agree that there are still some neighborhoods with a broad
socio-economic mix, and that ours is one of them. For that we
both are grateful.
Have a great day.
P. S. The incumbent