Tale of two districts

Why moving from Glitter Gulch to Del Paso Boulevard is a step up for SN&R

SN&R is leaving Glitter Gulch, and I for one am glad we’re moving. It’s a bit too opulent in this little slice of Midtown. A bit too gay, if you will. I mean gay in the sense it is used when referring to the Gay Nineties, that mythical time in the late 19th century when there was no Federal Reserve System, no federal income tax and more money than you could burn, as long as you were an oil baron or a railroad magnate. The tech and housing bubbles never burst in Glitter Gulch, the recession never happened. It lulls you to sleep.

My office window (I won’t say my old office window yet, since I’m writing this before we move, but you’ll be reading this after we move, so it’s really my old office window) overlooks 20th Street between J and K streets. The MARRS building is directly across the street. The Depot and Faces are on one end, Peet’s Tea & Coffee is on the other. This, apparently, is where all the beautiful people in Sacramento hang out, if the endless parade of impossibly good-looking men and women dressed in the latest high fashions passing beneath my window is any indication.

For years, it baffled me. Where do they come from? Where the hell do they get all the money? The implosion of Sacramento’s economy two years ago barely made a ripple in Glitter Gulch. I would have never figured it out if the furloughs hadn’t started. I really should have known. The neighborhood is surrounded by government office buildings. All those beautiful people who recently began disappearing on Fridays are … a drum roll, please … state workers!

It kind of makes you want to go down and take the civil-service exam, except for that furlough thing.

To be honest, I didn’t figure it out on my own. One Friday a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to the guy who runs the cigarette store on J Street across from SN&R. Business was deader than Mike Huckabee’s political career, on the street and in his store. “It’s those goddamned furloughs!” he said. Of course it is! What else could it be in recession-proof Glitter Gulch? I was complimenting him on his astute observation when he changed the subject.

“I hear you’re moving to the ghetto.”

Now that hurt.

OK, so we’re moving to Del Paso Boulevard, and it’s not exactly Beverly Hills. For more than a decade, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency has been attempting to resurrect our new north Sacramento neighborhood, which was a vibrant community back in the 1950s. They’ve been moderately successful on the blocks nearest to the intersection of Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way, but on the south side of Del Paso, where SN&R’s new building is located, the businesses are pretty thin. We are SHRA’s latest attempt to jump-start this end of the boulevard.

As such, SN&R is the beneficiary of significant funding from SHRA. There’s no question that this presents a potential conflict of interest. How can SN&R report fairly on SHRA and the city, now that the paper has been given a government handout?

Here’s how, brothers and sisters. The south end of Del Paso Boulevard is one screwed-up piece of real estate. I could spend the rest of my career writing about all the things that need to be fixed. I’ll probably start with the Highway 160 offramp, a treacherous high-speed turn that dumps you off on our end of the boulevard, the most torn-up stretch of asphalt in the city. Repair it or suffer the consequences—in print. Our salespeople are already wondering where they’re going to get their morning caffeine fix. Why won’t the city buy us a coffee shop? The nearest gay bar, The Bolt, is blocks away. Can somebody do something about that?

As you can see, conflict of interest isn’t going to be a problem.

Tongue firmly out of cheek now, any reservations I might have had about moving to Del Paso Boulevard were removed when I visited the new, completed building for the first time at SN&R’s holiday party last week. I don’t have enough space to describe it to you here, other than to say it has a sense of permanence previous incarnations of this former supermarket have lacked. You really ought to drive by and see it. Watch it on the offramp, though.

As for Glitter Gulch, I’m not really glad SN&R is moving. True, you’ve refused to embrace the sobriquet I have bequeathed upon you, for which I will be forever vexed. But I’ll always come back to visit, and who knows? Maybe some day I’ll even take the civil-service exam.