How to turn a Happy City into a Yuppie City.
We have a few examples of what not to do: San Francisco, Venice, Manhattan and Brooklyn.
1. First of all, you’ll need to create an awesome city. Folks who have lived in said city for a long time, who grow up there, or who move there for a job, or stay after college. It doesn’t matter. There needs to be an ethos, a vision, everyone subscribes to. And that ethos can’t just be philosophical, vague—it needs to be found in the pizza shops, on the basketball courts, at the farmers’ markets, in the cafés. The city or town has to be about something.
2. Work hard for decades to create a happy city. As the Founding Fathers envisioned, a happy city is a commonwealth. It’s not about the 1%, though it includes them. It’s about everyone. It offers opportunity to those who work hard. It offers a good education to those who are poor. It offers safe streets and a healthy way of life for all, rich or poor, young or old, lifer or newbie, entrepreneur or teacher.
3. Now comes the easy part: ruin the happy city. We’ve seen examples lately in San Francisco. Begin by having a bad attitude toward the homeless. Push for a gated community attitude. Don’t get involved in the eco or bike-friendly or educational or philanthropic communities. Think about yourself, and your McMansion, and hate the government—or anyone who tries to include you in the larger, happier community.
4. Get a ton of your wealthy friends to move in. Make sure they also don’t particularly care about the local values of commonwealth, eco-responsibility, affordable housing. Maybe create an interest group. Call it, say, Open Boulder (I live in Boulder, Colorado). Support a ton of good initiatives and dialogue—like better adventure and bike access, say.
5. Locals will wonder what you’re about. “They’re for lots of great things, and they talk about ‘the affordable housing crisis’ [their words!] all the time!” “Yes,” someone who’s smarter than you will agree. “But when it comes time, they’ll put their energy into something that shows their true colors, not affordable housing.” Nod in vague agreement, but basically support this group.
6. Election season. It’s time to vote! The interest group, disatisfied with its ability to buy its way into City Council seats rapidly enough, will put forth a ballot to term limit public servants on a local level. On a national level, this makes good sense–there’s not much oversight. On a local level, this is purely about their desire to get rid of the few longtime public servants that voters don’t seem to want to get rid of. So annoying, those voters. So—genius—pay folks with clipboards to get these voters to sign a ballot to take away their right to vote people in—or out. Term limits!
7. Now comes the good part. With your millions and billions of bucks, continue to fund folks to run for Council. You’ll take over in no time. Affordable housing? Whatever. We, Peter Thiel-like, just want to be left alone. And so a town turns from best-educated, bike-friendly, best place to retire, strong and resilient economy, progressive, a national example of pioneering progressiveism…to a place young folks and City staff and many of your own employees…can’t afford to live.
Yours in bemoaning Open Boulder’s ballot to institute Term Limits on a City Council that has helped create one of the best and most successful towns on Planet Earth,