Lofty ideals

The South Beach neighborhood near the San Francisco Bay has changed dramatically over the past decade. The only sign that things have remained somewhat the same in SoMa (South of Market) is the Gallo salami sign painted on the brown brick wall on their small factory. Hopefully, the famous hard salami from San Francisco will prevail over the dough being thrown about for condos and lofts.

The area has lost some of its character and is now filled with high-rise condos complete with waterfalls and views of the Bay Bridge and Pac Bell baseball stadium.

But what of the blue-collar jobs in the factories that used to dominate here? Well, let’s see. Mayor Willie Brown had to choose between blue-collar jobs and high-rent voters who would provide the city with a large tax base. Goodbye plumbing contractors and hello lawyers.

But actually it was the attempt to draw in artists with loft live-work spaces that originally got SoMa going. A similar plan to bring in artists to occupy space in a struggling neighborhood hasn’t worked so well in North Sacramento. The Del Paso area is still hoping it will create an arts district that will blossom, but demand for space is not high and the artists are moving away instead of in (see “Not a pretty picture”).

Redevelopment dreamers and schemers need to learn a hard lesson: This isn’t San Francisco, and that can be a good thing.