According to Sam and Jim Commenting on things that irk us off, make us laugh out loud or just seem too weird too believe According to Sam and Jim: I'll Be Thankful If My Small Town Remains Undiscovered

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'll Be Thankful If My Small Town Remains Undiscovered

Sam and I don’t want our favorite town to be “discovered.” We’re sure the local Chamber of Commerce and the business people in Fortuna, California, disagree as they call Fortuna “a wonderful place to raise your family.”

Located 300 miles north of San Francisco in the Eel River Valley of Humboldt County, Fortuna is to this day almost as bucolic as when it was first founded. But I have lived in several towns that were “discovered” as great places to live and they were ruined by too many people, shopping malls, traffic, crime and all that other detritus of too much growth.

Fortuna, where I attended high school (before Sam’s time), has miraculously escaped the rampant growth that ruins so many small towns. Since it’s located in California that’s a miracle, but there are very few jobs in Fortuna and tourism to the redwood country where it’s located sort of dies off during the cold, wet winters there. People think it rains a lot in Washington State, but I can tell you it rains a lot in Fortuna too. Situated on the Pacific Ocean near the middle of Humboldt County, Fortuna is in the redwoods which are a rain forest (RAIN). I remember many Easter Sundays ruined by downpours of rain and it was always iffy to plan a picnic in the summer.

In a recent USA Today article John Brady, writes, In Search of A Special Town, that many Baby Boomers are looking to escape the hassles of suburban living and live someplace with a small-town feel, where they can walk to shopping and restaurants, where they can easily make social connections, and where there is easy access to recreational opportunities. They often also favor small college towns where the college offers adult educational opportunities and music and art and stage productions.

I lived in Livermore, California for a time before it was “discovered.” In 1970, when I first located there it was a quaint little cow town of 19,000 souls where the teenagers wore cowboy boots and hats and trolled the main street in their pickup trucks on Friday nights. Then it grew. Developers realized land there was cheap and foresaw that people would be willing to commute half an hour or more to the Oakland/San Francisco bay rea if they could buy a cheap home. I used to say you could shoot a canon down the interstate highway near Livermore and not hit anything, but that has all changed. Livermore and its neighboring towns of Dublin, Pleasanton and Tracy have exploded with growth. For awhile, the growth was so rampant, the city of Livermore had to impose a building moratorium, but that didn’t last. Now Livermore and the surrounding areas consist of wall-to-wall housing tracts, factories, and PEOPLE! The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) runs down the middle of what is now a mega, multi-laned freeway and traffic, most of the time, is stop and go.

The same thing is happening to Bellingham, Washington, where I lived for nearly 30 years - maybe not on the same scale yet as Livermore, but Bellingham is rapidly losing its small towness. I was always slightly put off when I sold real estate in Bellingham and potential clients would tell me they didn’t want a tract house, but something with “charm.” That’s the problem with small towns - their charm. Bellingham is rapidly losing its quaint, small-town charm and housing there now is so expensive the average person can’t afford to buy.

Three bags of poop on Fortuna being “discovered.” May it always remain the small town of my dreams.

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