Peak Design's Guide to San Francisco: Episode 2
August 4, 2022 2:04 PM   Subscribe

"Today, we're going to be looking at the hottest neighborhood in San Francisco--Austin Texas!" Brimming with crypto, billionaire robber barons in cowboy cosplay, and the cleanest Crocs you'll ever see, the hippest up-and-coming San Fran neighborhood of Austin, TX is undoubtedly a "vibe."
posted by mecran01 (72 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I lived in Austin in the late 90's, and it was crazy to watch this cool town sort of collapse under the weight of tech shit (of which I was a part). So in that sense, yeah, it's a neighborhood in San Fransisco.
posted by phooky at 2:13 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Is there a fog?
posted by geoff. at 2:24 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Definitely some definition of hottest.

At the time of this comment, Austin temperature 101, San Francisco temperature 68.
posted by meowzilla at 2:30 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


If you've ever lived in Austin, you've probably been to Lucy in Disguise. It's basically a giant funky costume rental place on south Congress. It's fun. They just announced that they're closing down after almost 40 years.

I see this happening over and over in Austin. Everything that gave it the weird reputation that it had has either died or been priced out of the city. Now it's basically the capitol, UT, and high rise condo buildings filled with millionaires, surrounded by tent cities. A few years ago you could get a place for half or even a third of the price of a place in SF. But even then you get what you pay for. Like mewozilla said, there's generally a 40-degree difference between the two in the summer. And it's not like you can just do a daytrip to ocean or mountains. (I mean, you can, it's just that the gulf coast ain't the Pacific, and that daytrip to the mountains literally takes all day to get there.) But again, that was a few years ago. Now? The prices in Austin are exorbitant.

So a few years ago? Yah I see the appeal, even though I think it was misplaced. But now? I have no idea what the appeal is. Honestly, what is there in Austin that is better than anywhere else? Why not go to Cincinnati or Memphis or Chapel Hill? Or Tacoma or Madison or hell, even Dallas?
posted by nushustu at 2:53 PM on August 4 [33 favorites]


Years ago, Apple decided to move some operations to Austin. Cheaper. In order to entice employees to go there, they had two messages:

1. Houses are a lot cheaper.
2. Austin? It’s not Texas!!!

But people I knew from Texas, said that Texas starts at the city limits. Being a resident of SF, and an astute reader of MetaFilter political threads, there is no way in hell that I would consider living in that fascist state.
posted by njohnson23 at 3:03 PM on August 4 [15 favorites]


Austin saw its average rent increase a staggering 50% in one year, from May of 2021 to May of 2022. Why on earth would you pay California prices without the California weather to go with it?
posted by Ndwright at 3:06 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]


Why not go to Cincinnati or Memphis or Chapel Hill?

Austin is the Cincinnati of 1940, when Cincinnati was a major city and Austin was far smaller. Chapel Hill is the Austin of 1940, so I guess that means Chapel Hill will be the Austin of 2060.


Why on earth would you pay California prices without the California weather to go with it?

Austin isn't SF prices. The median rent in Austin is $2700 vs SF at $3400, which is still not comparable because the median apartment in Austin is bigger. Austin's rent is equivalent to the Inland Empire (San Bernadino), which is far worse than Austin in terms of income, educational attainment, job prospects, culture, and the weather equally sucks (or is worse outside of summer).
posted by The_Vegetables at 3:15 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


1 …
2. Austin!
3. AUSTIN!!
4. Profit!

I’ve been visiting Austin almost yearly since 2004(?)-ish and as nice as it kind of is/was… I don’t get it. The whole stretch of 35 from Austin to SanAntonio is turning into one big, ugly megopolis. (With no subway/tram/light rail to speak of! so that everyday at 4-ish all roads leading out turn into sludgy parking lots.)
It had charm but it really feels like it’s all been priced out.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:15 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I like Peak Design's backpacks and was amused by this video.

But when I went to their "flagship store" in San Francisco and asked to see the admiral, they didn't know what I was talking about, so either they lose some points for that, or, more likely, I do.
posted by aubilenon at 3:20 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


Back in 1842, Texas wanted to move the state capitol to Houston. They needed the archives to do that, though, and the people of Austin turned out with guns to fight off the group that came to take the archives in the middle of the night. As a result, the capitol stayed in Austin. Sadly, the people of Austin did not similarly rally when tech came knocking in the 90s....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:33 PM on August 4 [11 favorites]


Leslie would be so ashamed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:34 PM on August 4 [7 favorites]


Austin isn't SF prices. The median rent in Austin is $2700 vs SF at $3400, which is still not comparable because the median apartment in Austin is bigger.

Okay, that's fine, but also the average tech salary in Austin is 21k less than the average in SF. So, square feet aside, it's still more expensive.
posted by nushustu at 3:37 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


(Although, to be fair, Texas not having any state taxes probably makes it a better deal financially.)
posted by nushustu at 3:38 PM on August 4


As a longtime Austin resident, I was prepared to hate on this video, but I think it is more poking fun at San Francisco residents seeing things in terms of their own city (sort of like that famous New Yorker cover).
posted by adamrice at 3:51 PM on August 4 [7 favorites]


Is there a fog?

Uh, kind of...

see also...
posted by mcrandello at 3:54 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


As someone in the process of leaving Austin: this is the nicest city in the United States not on a coast (I have been to all lower 48 states and most major cities therein). It almost, almost qualifies as “not a dumpsterfire,” but what happened with Prop B last year proves that at heart it’s as small and mean and possessed of pointless cruelty as everywhere else in this shithole state. Or at least the rich people are and they’ve reached critical mass. I wish people had listened to Mayor Adler - dude seems to have his heart in the right place.

On the plus side, I was hit on by attractive dudes in coffee shops twice in my first 24 hours here - nothing overly aggressive, just the usual “hey, I really like your hair” pass waiting for my order. I gave them the lopsided grin and slight head tilt that when I lived in Seattle’s Capitol Hill meant “I like compliments and I’m safe but I don’t swing that way, sorry guy” and it was received perfectly smoothly with no further fuss. Some parts of actual San Fran should take notes on that.
posted by Ryvar at 4:06 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]


Why not go to Cincinnati or Memphis or Chapel Hill?

I lived in Austin for 5 years in the mid teens. I tried to like it for a year or so and failed miserably. I quickly grew to loathe how expensive it was and what a general pain in the ass everything was. And I had decent privilege and lived in a "good" neighborhood! That's just the over crowdedness and intentional lack of infrastructure. It also felt racist as hell and "liberal for TX" can end up pretty anti-progressive. I personally hated the weather; ymmv.

I met some great people there, but getting a way back out secured was a huge relief, and I am way happier now.

These people wait for hours for Chik-fila and In-N-out. Something isn't right there.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:14 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]


(Although, to be fair, Texas not having any state taxes probably makes it a better deal financially.)

Texas doesn't have state income tax but depending on where you are the property taxes can be quite high. Extraordinarily high if you compare them to the services you get back.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:26 PM on August 4 [10 favorites]


The bitcoin is real billboard is real.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:43 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I was born and raised in San Francisco, and moved to Austin when I was 15 in 1978, so I was in the first wave of immigrants. This video is pretty spot-on.

At first I hated it here because it was a podunk backwater compared to The City, but came to love it as I learned my way around. The worm has slowly turned, and now all I want to do is shovel money in the bank and occasionally get the hell out of here on a long weekend, which is… I’m not kidding at all… an hour’s drive from my house in central Austin just to the city limits, in any direction on a Friday.

I used to think of it as a blue island in a sea of red, but now I think of it more as a leaky lifeboat. We’re all bailing faster and faster, but we’re still slowly sinking. I’m not saying “don’t move here because we don’t want you,” which we don’t, but really, don’t move here because it’s all a lie.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:58 PM on August 4 [20 favorites]


I guffawed several times along with this. And I found Austin pretty fun but seriously could never live in a place where I need a car or a ride share just to safely navigate across the highway.

Fun trivia and music. Queso is overrated. Texas is a fascist hellscape.

But this video? Well done.
posted by abulafa at 4:59 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


I've been in Austin for over 55 years. This too shall pass...
posted by jim in austin at 5:16 PM on August 4 [12 favorites]


I've been in Austin for over 55 years. This too shall pass...
posted by jim in austin at 10:16 AM on August 5 [+] [!]


And all these years I've thought that your username meant that you were actually Bob, but due to some strange hijinks the people of Austin knew you as Jim.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:21 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]


Why not go to Cincinnati or Memphis or Chapel Hill? Or Tacoma or Madison or hell, even Dallas?

I'd rank Hell above Dallas, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:29 PM on August 4 [40 favorites]


I've been in Austin for over 30 years. This is our own fault. For decades we bragged about how cool Austin was, how artistic, how weird, how special. Then the Gods said "OK". They punished us for our hubris by making everyone else actually believe us. The outsiders moved here in their masses, swamping our pristine nature spots and driving our housing prices into the heavens. Now we are exiles from our own homes, scraping our boil-covered skin with potsherds as we limp through the remnants of our shattered lives in the barren outer wastes of Cedar Park and Pflugerville. Let our fate be a lesson to you! Beware the sin of pride, and never mention how pleasant it is to live in your city.
posted by Balna Watya at 5:36 PM on August 4 [60 favorites]


Beware the sin of pride, and never mention how pleasant it is to live in your city.

I've spent my life in Vancouver. We know the story oh so well.
posted by Zedcaster at 5:45 PM on August 4 [14 favorites]


If Austin’s too hot for you come to Minneapolis! Our weather is… wait, never mind don’t bother coming to Mpls.

Back when I used to work for big name ad agency we’d plan when we’d fly people in for interviews so they wouldn’t get scared off. That goes for summer or winter.

Also, according to Laura Ingram we’re still on fire and covered in crime and riots!
posted by misterpatrick at 5:46 PM on August 4 [8 favorites]


What the hell happened to Austin is a favorite refrain of my buddies on Signal, one of whom still live there. We all landed there in the late 80’s, met in high school, and thus had the whole of Austin in the 90’s set aside for our twentysomething selves. Very little money, but we could afford to share a house on Eva Street. The first place we lived, Riverwoods Apartments, was an old converted motel, long since built over, and I believe built over again out of pure spite, on South Congress. But even then, in 1991, people were warning us not to “go native,” or else they reminisced about the Armadillo or the one time they met Janis Joplin and/or Willie. So a) Austin has been going downhill for a long time and b) uh, I was probably part of the problem (even though I didn’t move there voluntarily — I was 16). Anyway, of course it was glorious, swimming holes, rolling down the Capitol hill lawn, shows at long extinct clubs, getting fired from stupid jobs, walking barefeet down the Drag to Quack’s, bumming cigarettes at the bus stop — we could easily have been Slacker extras, but as with so many things in Austin, timing is everything (at least my sister made an appearance in Dazed and Confused). I remember feeling slightly alarmed at first sight of a “Keep Austin Weird” bumper sticker, probably understanding that the need for such a statement meant that it would certainly not come true. But I lived and did weird shit anyway, eventually managing to not go native and leave in 2001. But for a hot minute the whole place felt like a giant Temporary Autonomous Zone, and that particular snapshot of space-time will always feel like home to me, even if it was better before I got there.
posted by swift at 5:56 PM on August 4 [29 favorites]


Brimming with crypto, billionaire robber barons in cowboy cosplay, and the cleanest Crocs you'll ever see, the hippest up-and-coming San Fran neighborhood of Austin, TX is undoubtedly a "vibe."

I read that in Stefon’s voice. That was intentional, right? :)
posted by darkstar at 5:58 PM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Beware the sin of pride, and never mention how pleasant it is to live in your city.

Reminds me of when there was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek trend among Burning Man attendees to talk up how hard and physically unpleasant and totally not worth it of an experience it is (the former two aren't lies). And then, because we couldn't shut up about how great is was, we got an exclusive event with exorbitant ticket prices, turnkey camps for the wealthy, influencers doing photoshoots in Native American war bonnets (on sacred land no less), and Zuckerbot flying in on a helicopter to make grilled cheese sandwiches for an afternoon.
posted by treepour at 6:20 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


If Austin’s too hot for you come to Minneapolis! Our weather is… wait, never mind don’t bother coming to Mpls.

“We all saw what you did to Portland, get the hell out of my town” is a refrain I’m hearing from a lot of mid-tier American cities these days.
posted by mhoye at 6:48 PM on August 4 [22 favorites]


i miss the 24-hour Home Depot at two in the morning, three weeks before burning man
posted by phooky at 7:07 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


…? The point of that story is that Austin is both extremely chill and LGBT-friendly in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, even if you’re not. Far beyond anywhere else I’ve been outside of Seattle or Portland (parts of Boston can be but I would never describe anything in New England as “chill” outside of winter). I’m not sure what all else you took away from what I wrote, friend, but this being Metafilter you may have been dissecting a little too deeply.
posted by Ryvar at 7:09 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


*cries in Nashvillian*
posted by pianoblack at 7:18 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


…? The point of that story is that Austin is both extremely chill and LGBT-friendly in a way that makes you feel good about yourself

for the record, that's exactly what i got from your story, Ryvar. not sure what roger ackroyd is reading into it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by cnidaria at 7:37 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


It stood out because on day one I knew that gay men here felt safe enough to take a shot with a stranger. It’s how I knew this was a good place, even if it was still Texas, and that I was going to be okay here in a way I could never be in Dallas. If I wasn’t able to move back to the coasts like I soon will be, this is the only place in the country I’d be sort of okay with for precisely that reason. If I’m missing something huge here then I genuinely want to know - like, private message if you’d prefer, but I’d prefer public so other people like me can learn, too.
posted by Ryvar at 7:51 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Beware the sin of pride, and never mention how pleasant it is to live in your city.

Eh, I've been saying that about Pittsburgh for decades and no one has believed me yet.
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 PM on August 4 [19 favorites]


come to Minneapolis! Our weather is...

Darkly: any city that has water, isn't on fire, and has a survivable wet bulb temp year round is going to be popular in the coming years.
posted by MillMan at 8:50 PM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Why not go to Cincinnati or Memphis or Chapel Hill?

A few weeks ago, I was at a party with a person who left Austin a couple of years back because she couldn't stand the place it had become/was becoming. When I told her where I'd just bought a house, she looked at me soberly and said, "Looking at what's coming and what's already arrived in your neck of the woods, my advice is to have a back up plan for a place you can move once your town becomes fully and unrecongizably sucky."

Reader: I live 2 miles from the middle of Chapel Hill (which is, actually, even as we speak, kind of becoming unrecognizably sucky).
posted by thivaia at 9:25 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


Beware the sin of pride, and never mention how pleasant it is to live in your city.

It seems like we've managed to get to the point where half the country seems to think that San Francisco is a dystopian hellscape. Enjoy it while it lasts!
posted by alexei at 9:32 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Einsteins Arcade, Capt'n Quacks, The Zendiks, Reimers Ranch, The Boat House, Mt Bonnell sunrise on acid.

That Austin has become full on Platonic.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 9:36 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Eh, I've been saying that about Pittsburgh for decades and no one has believed me yet.

I was surprised by how nice Pittsburgh was like fifteen years ago so I guess I had assumed this secret was long since out.

It seems like we've managed to get to the point where half the country seems to think that San Francisco is a dystopian hellscape.

Unfortunately it does kinda Suck Now - just for different reasons than some might claim. Also all of these places Suck Now for pretty much the same reasons (money, obviously, and its unequal distribution).
posted by atoxyl at 11:18 PM on August 4 [8 favorites]


that was HILARIOUS.
>sob<
i live in SF. have friends in Austin. and this is... incisive. laughing thru the tears.
posted by lapolla at 1:40 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


If Austin’s too hot for you come to Minneapolis! Our weather is… wait, never mind don’t bother coming to Mpls.

Having moved from Austin to Minneapolis in the past year, look. Look, at least this summer heat ends and you get some damn variety. In Austin, instead of beginning to break and cool down through August it keeps building and building through to mid September.

Also, the power grid here never sends me plaintive requests to stop using it midsummer because it's held together with chewing gum and pieces of goddamn string.
posted by sciatrix at 3:44 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


I lived in Austin for a few years in the second half of the 1970s. They were tearing down single family homes (and a hospital) to build condos even then. Summers were nicer because the students mostly moved out, and it was quiet. Barton Springs was crystal clear because the subdivisions that drain into it hadn't been built yet. The airport was off Airport Boulevard because Bergstrom was still an Air Force Base. There was a cool culture of making posters with great graphic design to advertise music events. The East Side had cheap rents and Mexican Restaurants. Sixth Street was mostly empty storefronts. I moved away to almost double my pay, salaries sucked in those days.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:37 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]


These people wait for hours for Chik-fila and In-N-out. Something isn't right there.

I have seriously considered booking an international flight just to get an In-N-Out burger. Chik-fil-A can suck it, though.
posted by Optamystic at 5:33 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Chapel Hill resident here. Apple is opening a campus in Research Triangle Park, so cost of living is driving up. We have NIMBYist blocs that proclaim themselves "leafy and livable" but fight tooth and nail against many things that would actually improve quality of life around the town. We have a recalcitrant State DOT that drags its feet on any kind of infrastructure changes the town might like to make. We have developers attempting to create living districts in areas with zero walkability or bikeability. Downtown (and by that I really just mean the block in either direction of Franklin Street, which runs adjacent to UNC campus) has such exorbitant property taxes that businesses open and close constantly. Most of my friends were priced out of buying homes here and had to move to Durham. So yeah, we might be slightly pre-Austin.

That said, having lived in West Texas for 11 years, I LOVE living in Chapel Hill. The town and county are pretty strict about development, so a sizeable percentage of our restaurants are actually locally owned. We have two fantastic little book stores. And we have trees! So many trees. When I first moved here, I had trouble navigating because I was used to seeing clear across a development to whatever store or street I was trying to reach; a lot of the town feels hidden by trees. And we have some great mutual aid and nonprofits in town (the Really Really Free Market in Carrboro and Table in Chapel Hill) that do their best to pick up the neoliberal slack (not that there isn't a lot of slack).

I guess what I'm saying is I'd definitely recommend Chapel Hill over Austin.

@thivaia, I'm excited about the bike lane work they're doing along Franklin. My friends in Town Hall have been fighting the DOT to get that done, and it's great it's finally happening.
posted by TheKaijuCommuter at 5:46 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]


Denver sends its regards. Like Austin, or SF, or Minneapolis, or Portland, this town sucks. When I first came here in the mid 80's it was awesome, a forgotten town, the butt of cow town jokes, with a great music scene, cheap rent, great coffee houses, unbeatable weather, and good Mexican food it was just what I was looking for. It's now a capitalist hellscape, playground for the wealthy, and every city official is doing their level best to sell it to the highest bidder.
I will look into Pittsburgh (despite it being Pennsylvania) because I desperately need a livable city. I hate what this country has decided to become.
posted by evilDoug at 5:47 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]


There's always Kansas City. Has some great neighborhoods. Some walkable districts. Medical MJ on the Missouri side, and abortion rights on the Kansas side. Still very affordable. People are pretty low key. Unfortunately, it's very car dependent but you can't have everything.

But overall, it's sad about the situation in the country. When I was a kid, almost every city was affordable. Plenty of cities had little (or big) neighborhoods of weirdness where you could get a basic job, a cheap apartment, and join in the fun. NYC and SF were expensive but still doable by someone of average means. The horizons felt almost limitless. I feel a little sorry for Gen Z as they're starting to graduate college and figure out where they want to go. Sure, they can probably find a way to make it in SF, Portland, or New York. But it's so much more difficult now than it was for me in the early 90's.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:33 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I'm happy to live in a city that nobody would ever consider cool, however, we're still being invaded by folks from the coasts. I mean, who else is buying these overpriced condos in marginal neighborhoods? Maybe a bad winter will drive a few out. :)
posted by greatalleycat at 7:00 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I'm so sad to hear that Lucy in Disguise is closing. When I visited Austin last month I thought of going there but decided that I'd have more opportunities in the future. I did notice that the video rental place along with Coldtowne Theater on Airport Blvd are being torn down for some new construction. Video rental business is definitely an anachronism even ten years ago, but I still missed seeing that sign with that almost-menacing man-in-a-heart face.

There's a New Yorker article about pickleball that featured Austin and its tech bros rather prominently. It's not the Austin I recognize (2010-2020).
posted by of strange foe at 7:15 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


What I'm gathering from the trend of Trendy Cities is that if everyone says to move somewhere then move somewhere else.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:17 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


@thivaia, I'm excited about the bike lane work they're doing along Franklin. My friends in Town Hall have been fighting the DOT to get that done, and it's great it's finally happening.

Agreed. And I'm in one of the neighborhoods that has, in part, turned disappointingly NIMBY over an affordable housing project I support, but it's not all of us and Carrboro seems to be moving forward so . . .

(I have no plans to leave either. I bitch a lot but I still love it here)
posted by thivaia at 7:19 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


What I'm gathering from the trend of Trendy Cities is that if everyone says to move somewhere then move somewhere else.

I always find threads like this ironic, like as soon as you start talking about cities, Metafilter becomes extremely Republican. The vast majority of the posts are:
Immigrants: no!
Culture change from what I'm used to: no!
Homeless People: ewww!
Anything other than single family homes: no.
Rich people from the coasts (like rich people move away from where they are successful -no they do not): EVIL. The UofTX is the flagship university in the state of Texas - it's pumping out 10,000 local high income graduates from other parts of Texas every semester, not from the coasts.
The past was better: Yes!
Too many people: Yes!
Everything was better when it cost less: Duh.

Newsflash: All that stuff is exactly what Republicans say! And people here wonder why they win so many elections.

These people wait for hours for Chik-fila and In-N-out. Something isn't right there. I see you have not been to California recently.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:03 AM on August 5 [11 favorites]


Uh, I live in Victoria, BC, and I can tell you unequivocally that rich people move from where they were "successful" because they retire -- early -- (or work remotely at salaries that local employers can't match) and want to move to a place that they didn't fuck up in the pursuit of wealth.

In general, culture is the product of work and struggle. When rich people start showing up, that's when things get homogenous, boring and expensive, and when progress stops. That's when you know things are going to start going downhill. It's not about immigration, it's about class.

But another thing Republicans do is radically misinterpret what people are saying to push their own narratives and it seems like there's only one of those here.
posted by klanawa at 9:29 AM on August 5 [11 favorites]


I always find threads like this ironic, like as soon as you start talking about cities, Metafilter becomes extremely Republican. The vast majority of the posts are:
Immigrants: no!
Culture change from what I'm used to: no!
Homeless People: ewww!


Eh…. the feeling I get from this thread is more like talking about gentrification. Like old Austin was weird and kind of ramshackle, and there was always the State government and UT as giant monocultures, but it had a lot of room for niche interests and a lot of love for people who were only getting by. Then tech people started moving in and, 30 years later, more and more is about them and there’s much less room for the odd ducks. So the influx of wealth is destroying the existing culture, which was often annoying but also vibrant and fun.

Austin in 2000 was probably the place that I’ve lived that was most tolerant of homeless people. Not always helpful, mind you, but the feeling of making room for people to exist. I doubt the new Austin will be as accommodating.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:37 AM on August 5 [10 favorites]


I always find threads like this ironic, like as soon as you start talking about cities, Metafilter becomes extremely Republican. The vast majority of the posts are:
Immigrants: no!
Culture change from what I'm used to: no!
Homeless People: ewww!
Anything other than single family homes: no.


I can't help but think you are projecting your own feelings. No one in this thread has brought up most of these subjects except you. I mentioned condos replacing single family homes, but I think that is a good thing in the West Campus area. It would be better if they were six-story condos, rather than two stories.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:49 AM on August 5 [7 favorites]


I always find threads like this ironic, like as soon as you start talking about cities, Metafilter becomes extremely Republican. The vast majority of the posts are:
Immigrants: no!
Culture change from what I'm used to: no!
Homeless People: ewww!
Anything other than single family homes: no.


I hear you, but for me the complaint is more about the fact that most of the things that made Austin unique have been priced out, and in their place, we get high-end outdoor malls with Apple and Coach stores, and more chain restaurants, etc. The main draws for cities used to be kind of unique, now it's the same goddamned stores and bars I can find in every city in America. Again, what is it that makes Austin unique enough to warrant people moving to it? It's not the weather, it's not the scenery, it's not the restaurants or stores or bars. It's not the people because everybody who you could define as interesting can't afford to live there. SXSW and ACL? Dude, that is four weeks out of the year, and it's filled to the brim with out-of-towners. SXSW and ACL are awesome, but you don't have to live there to enjoy it.

So honestly, what makes Austin special? What makes it different than Dallas?
posted by nushustu at 11:51 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Also, it's not "homeless people: eww" it's "there are millionaires in high-rises and then a sea of people without homes, and not a lot in-between." This is more about how Austin is yet another example of the worst of late-stage capitalism, and they're doing fuck-all about it, which is pretty neat in a town that gets more Lambos every goddamned day.
posted by nushustu at 11:53 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


> Chapel Hill resident here. Apple is opening a campus in Research Triangle Park, so cost of living is driving up. ... Most of my friends were priced out of buying homes here and had to move to Durham. So yeah, we might be slightly pre-Austin.

I'm in Durham and the situation is pretty similar, I'd say. I even saw somebody mention recently in one of the local subreddits that they bought a house in Chapel Hill because it was cheaper than buying in Durham. If you read any of the local subreddits (e.g. r/bullcity, r/raleigh, r/triangle) a good deal of the posts are about steeply rising rents and house prices and being priced out of the area (there are even folks considering commuting from Burlington to Raleigh), all the cool places that are gone, and general bemoaning that the area is losing its character.

Most of the downtown Durham food businesses we liked when we moved to the area over 10 years ago are now gone, as are some of the quirky local businesses such as Morgan Imports (and RIP Southern Season down your way). Some have hung on by moving outside of downtown (e.g. recent James Beard award winner Saltbox Seafood Shack). But the stand in the Farmers Market / food truck progression to a thriving bricks-and-mortar business no longer seems to be happening with the same regularity of a decade ago, for example Monuts Donuts or bikeCoffee, the latter of which went from a stand in the Durham Farmers Market selling coffee to three locations of Cocoa Cinnamon plus Little Waves coffee roastery in the Durham area. Instead small local businesses that could have hung on and grown in past years now flame out quickly, and only franchises seem to be able afford the rents.
posted by research monkey at 12:05 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Why not go to Cincinnati or Memphis or Chapel Hill? Or Tacoma or Madison or hell, even Dallas?

Madison sucks ass with a straw, and we don't want you here. Leave us alone.
posted by rocketman at 12:07 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


as someone who lives directly in the poison that now grips your quaint heritage city centers, i accept the criticism of exported Californians.

what i never, ever see in threads like these, is the unspoken reason(in my opinion) behind why the galloping tech horde came to rule your town: your governor invited them! your state did this to you!

sure, it’s easy and free to point at the walking cliche who gives negative shits about your quaint flower boutique or whatever. i get it. i see the assholes where they’re born. But Rick Friggin’ Perry was flying his TexJet into San Jose every other weekend for a dog’s age. With the bay’s last middle-class jobs under one arm and every narcissist CEO he could scrabble into his raccoon hands under the other. Billboards on any highway you want telling us web3 crabs that Ohio, no, Kentucky, no.. Alabama! is the greatest place to run your startup.

if you wanna say something about California’s taxes or cost of living, sure, go ahead, but in your heart you know this is true. you have a governor with a gigantic leftist city that has already been gerrymandered to hell and back, how can you stomp out the last embers of resistance? maybe try filling it with pseudo-libertarian techno-turds fished from the bin of america’s own bad idea engine. give them a couple hundred million in tax breaks. buy ‘em a cheap cowboy hat for a PR photo. They wanted those VC dollars squatting on your whimsical hotdog stand. The governor signed the checks that brought them there.

In short, the greatest enemy of Texas was, is, and will always be Texas.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 12:35 PM on August 5 [16 favorites]


When the technology bros arrive and you start seeing more exotic sports cars, the end of everything good is near. I live in the American West, and our homes are reaching California prices.
posted by mecran01 at 12:54 PM on August 5



Years ago (1990s?) I heard an essay about Austin by Molly Ivins on an NPR affiliate. I had a recording of it, but I can't find it. I also can't seem to find a version of it online.

If you can dig it up, it's fairly entertaining and most likely spot-on for this thread.
posted by mmrtnt at 2:22 PM on August 5


The main draws for cities used to be kind of unique

There is a reason McDonalds is a huge corporation, why Chipotle is what so many people think of when you say "burrito" and why Dominos rules pizza.

...it's because, in the end, most people don't want "unique". Not all people, but very definitely more than enough to ensure they win.

They want The Same As Back Home. Not challenging, not exciting, not new. Same. Familiar. Safe.

Americans would eat at Olive Garden in fucking Italy if they could.

Once pan-continental culture became possible, local variances are inevitably stamped out in favor of Same, Familiar, Safe, Easy, Simple. Different parts of the continent ended up dominating certain elements of pan-continental culture and not others (cf., why "New York Style" is a descriptor for a style of pizza that is NOT the most common), but at the end of a long shitty day if you offer most people two choices: something New, or something they damn well know already, they're gonna pick the latter often enough to drown most of the "uniqueness" from any area, and Boring is sufficiently profitable that the Boring guys get the investment money, and that means they win; your "weird" take on post-modern pizza gets obliterated by someone who can carpet-bomb the entire city with franchises.

These things go hand-in-hand.
Safe = guaranteed money. Guaranteed money = power and leverage.
Unique = not guaranteed, probably literally worse than Stalin, Run Away!
posted by aramaic at 5:46 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Research monkey,

I was bummed when Southern Seasons closed. At least Great Outdoor Provision Co. is still open.
posted by TheKaijuCommuter at 6:35 PM on August 5


The vast majority of the posts are:
Immigrants: no!
Culture change from what I'm used to: no!
Homeless People: ewww!


What? Not even close. One could certainly find a Catch-22 in the way people talk about gentrification, in that we all know wealth fleeing cities was destructive and racist but its inverse is also apparently destructive and racist. But plainly gentrification is what people are talking about.

like rich people move away from where they are successful -no they do not

hmm jog my memory, did something recently happen that might have created a disconnect between the place of people’s residence and the place of their success?

And anyway obviously there’s something of a domino effect. I’m from urban California and when I see people complaining about outrageous housing prices elsewhere in the country I tend to think “man, that’s not half bad!” I’m “in tech,” too, and make plenty of money, but there are people here making twice as much money as I do and households making four times as much. If you feel like you’re not quite getting your upper middle class money’s worth, the idea of moving somewhere one notch more affordable is attractive. And then there you’re the guy driving up prices.
posted by atoxyl at 7:29 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


nushustu: "I hear you, but for me the complaint is more about the fact that most of the things that made Austin unique have been priced out, and in their place, we get high-end outdoor malls with Apple and Coach stores, and more chain restaurants, etc.

So honestly, what makes Austin special? What makes it different than Dallas?
"

If your entire experience of Austin is the Domain and South Congress, then nothing. I half-jokingly refer to the Domain as "south Dallas."

But if you've been here long enough, you can easily go for days at a time living in an old Austin bubble. I'm lucky enough to own my own home, so my rent can't go up. I used to live in Hyde Park, and you could meet all your day-to-day needs without ever leaving that neighborhood's confines, and without ever patronizing a business that hadn't been there for at least 20 years (most of them are still there). It would be easy to pretend you were in the Austin of yesteryear.

Old Austin definitely has (had) a different vibe than Dallas. People are way less hung up about their appearance. There seem to be more hours in the day. People used to come here because it had a low cost of living, meaning you'd get more creative types. That's changed, of course, but a lot of those creative types from previous waves are still around, and if you've been around for a while, you know some of them.
posted by adamrice at 8:06 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I used to live in Hyde Park, and you could meet all your day-to-day needs without ever leaving that neighborhood's confines, and without ever patronizing a business that hadn't been there for at least 20 years (most of them are still there).

This is flat wrong. Both Hancock Center and 43rd and Duval have seen significant turnover of businesses in the past 20 years.
posted by Ndwright at 8:27 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


what i never, ever see in threads like these, is the unspoken reason(in my opinion) behind why the galloping tech horde came to rule your town: your governor invited them! your state did this to you!

This is more or less what I was implying in my comment about Austin being less of a blue island and more of a leaky boat. The city used to control its jurisdiction with somewhat sane environmental and development regulations, but starting with Perry and continuing under Abbot, the conservative state legislature has continuously and methodically passed state-level legislation stripping Austin of its autonomy. The city govt. Is also complicit in giving massive tax breaks to tech companies, so it’s coming at us from all directions, (F1 & their stupid race track that destroyed a semi-rural majority Hispanic neighborhood out in the eastern part of the county) but yeah, Abbott was directly responsible for the behemoth giga factory which is currently ruining Far East Austin and driving home prices in Bastrop into the stratosphere.

I could go on citing cases ad Infinitum. Apple, Google, Salesforce - I mean, at base level these seem like the kind of forward-leaning jobs you want to bring to town if you’re in charge of things and think growth is the answer to all economic woes because they pay better than Amazon distribution centers and Walmart, but they are certainly changing the overall culture of the city and while culture is going to change, it’s hard to see these changes to Austin’s culture as any sort of improvement compared to the culture of the 70’s-90’s.

I always find threads like this ironic, like as soon as you start talking about cities, Metafilter becomes extremely Republican. The vast majority of the posts are:
Immigrants: no!


I’m not going to take this personally because it’s a valid viewpoint, especially because I myself am an immigrant. Everyone wants to be the last person to move to Austin. That said, I have fought against nimbyism, on a lot of fronts at the ballot box - homelessness, public transportation, urban infill as opposed to suburban sprawl- and a lot of really progressive people think growth here could have been handled very differently and aren’t just reflexively anti-immigrant. You paint with an unfairly broad and simplistic brush.

- - -

I feel fortunate to be middle-class enough to only really need one job and to own a home that’s appreciating in value, but I don’t enjoy the city for its intrinsic worth as a city much any more because the things I personally valued in this place have dwindled to the point of insignificance. If being ensaddened by that makes me a grumpy Gus, oh well. I have coping mechanisms that don’t include road rage, and I’ll be ok. I might go be ok somewhere else as soon as the opportunity affords itself.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:43 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


*squint* I spent about three or four years living around the edges of Hyde Park; I will join the crowd of people expressing dubiousness that there hadn't been significant turnover there in 20 years. There was significant turnover in and around that neighborhood during the years I lived near it (2012-2015ish) and certainly continued to be after I got priced out enough that I moved east. (I miss the Hancock center; I ran a huge chunk of my social circle out of weekly coffee meetings at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in there for years. Of course, COVID killed that shortly before I moved.)

But yeah, as Devils Rancher points out, the repeated state-level choice to strip any and all municipal autonomy from Austin is just fucking heartbreaking and really underscores that the city's ability to set itself apart from other cities, and certainly to self-govern, is limited. Just while I was there, I remember the state of Texas killing stuff as mundane as the requirement that rideshare companies fingerprint their "contractors" and treat them like employees (which was allowing an interesting nonprofit model to gain ground within the city!) and a ban on disposable shopping bags.

Honestly, it's that state-level viciousness that makes me glad to be gone. There's a special vehemence with which the state government under Abbott appears to take joy in targeting any Austin measure of self-rule, including (and maybe especially) any attempts by UT Austin to set policies that are widely popular among its employees and students. I think it is going to be interesting seeing what the level of churn in the city that is being created by, yes, those state-level and city-level desire to be creating businesses and drawing Yet More People In happens when the state of Texas continues to override popular municipal measures to improve the city. But I cannot say I'm unhappy to not be sticking around to find out.
posted by sciatrix at 12:51 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


I FOUND IT!

Molly Ivins Morning Edition: "Tug of War" - 1987-04-24

"In North Austin, people have two last names, like Grant Thomas and Hilary Field. In South Austin everybody's got two front names, like Jim Bob or Mary Joe"
posted by mmrtnt at 6:34 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


« Older Effect of Humming on Vision   |   How to Make a Schadenfreude Schadenfreude Pie Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.