Quality of Life / It's a Real Factor
Another year is coming to a close, and a bright new one is ready to dawn. This time of year is when most of us reflect on our lives and resolve to do better than before - to learn from the past and to make the most of the future that lies before us. San Pedro has changed dramatically in just a few short years. The population has grown perhaps 100% in five or six years. The ideas and programs that served a smaller community may need a little re-thinking in order to preserve that special quality of life that is the most wonderful gift San Pedro has to offer its citizens, children and guests. In the end, the QUALITY OF LIFE in San Pedro is perhaps the greatest factor in establishing a strong and healthy real estate market. So while at first, this item might seem a little philosophical for a real estate column, it's actually the "bottom line value.
With respect to the issue of quality of life, I have asked around town to see what seem to be the issues most concerning local residents. Here is a report of what.people had to say, and what suggestions were made for the future.
The two most frequent items people mentioned were traffic and liquor. In each case there is some concern that the pleasures of a few are crowding out the enjoyment and safety of the majority.
About Traffic - Comments from locals are that vehicles are going too fast and are being driven recklessly. Tourists are even more bothered by the trucks, vans and cars. Many have commented that they came to San Pedro to see a town with only golf carts, and were disappointed with the noise and congestion that they see increasing. One traveler suggested we take a look at some very successful tourist locations where they specialize in being destinations without cars. Two in particular were mentioned, and both are islands. Both are very successful in drawing tourists, and the lack of cars is a big part of their appeal. One is Catalina Island off California, and the other is Mackinac Island off Michigan. In each case, there is an allowance for true utility vehicles for hauling cargo, for fire trucks, and ambulances. Private transportation is by golf-cart or bicycle on Catalina, and by bicycle or horse and buggy on Mackinac. Maybe this is a format that could provide us with some ideas for a better tourist product, manageable traffic, and safer places for the kids to walk and play.
Liquor is another area of strong opinion and debate. Most folks here drink, and that is not the issue cited by the citizens I spoke with. Their concern is noise and safety. It seems that some neighborhood bars are making noise that keeps people from sleeping. And it seems that drunken behaviour is scaring children and setting bad examples for them. When neighbors call the police to complain about noise or a fight, the police are often far from the location and it is difficult for them to respond. This is not a new problem. Communities all over the world have faced it, and most have adopted the policy of clustering drinking and entertainment establishments in certain areas where the patrons can enjoy themselves without bothering others. This idea of clustering also allows the police the ability of efficient patrol. Where a drinking establishment is licensed in a residential area, opening hours may be designated to allow the majority a good night's sleep. It should be further noted that this concept has also been good for the overall profitability of the bars and restaurants themselves! In towns and cities where drinking, dining and entertainment establishments are clustered, business actually increases for everybody. What happens is that customers know they can have fun or find good food in a particular part of town, and go there. Rush Street in Chicago, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans are two excellent examples. They are profitable and popular areas, and have become known all over the world because of some thoughtful community planning.
In talking with residents and tourists alike, the feedback was pretty consistent. People like the quiet and intimacy of the town, the safety and security that such a community has offered them throughout the past years. They enjoy the improved infrastructure and the greater economic opportunities they see before them. They also are beginning to mourn for a simpler time that seems to have passed. It was a time not long ago - and the good. news is that we can recapture some of if we want to - we can preserve the quality of life we now have - we can keep San Pedro a decent and lovely place to live.
People often ask what is the single greatest factor in determining the outcome of a real estate market - and that item is QUALITY OF LIFE. Regardless of how much money you can make in some town, how fast you can travel on a freeway, or how many channels you can get on a television somewhere - if it's not a pleasant and safe place to live, then values will never hold strong. Despite the comments reported here about a coupler of negatives, the town of San Pedro offers a very high quality of life. If we keep our eye on preserving the good we have, the children and the grandchildren of San Pedro will be able to say the same when they are old enough to make their own resolutions for the New Year.
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