The other day, wandering that center of community life, Menlo Park's Sunday farmer's market, I had a chat with a Measure M constituent. Actually, I was intending to speak to an opponent of the November ballot proposition. But it says something about local politics that partisans from both sides stood leafleting so close together...that I inadvertently approached the wrong one.
Thing is, maybe it was the right one. The man tried to explain his views. And unfortunately, I couldn't resist arguing. And what about? Well, he said that he takes his life in his hands when crossing El Camino Real. With two visiting London cousins in tow, I couldn't resist an explanation that our main drag flowed at about 10% the rate of Notting Hill Gate, a thoroughfare of similar width. We carried on in a similar vein, the man and I, until I carried myself and the cousins off. "Thanks for the explanation," I told him.
He considered this. "I'm the whipping boy, am I?"
I considered this too.
I suppose he was. And what we were arguing about happens to be unarguable. If you're used to urban life, and enjoy it, then a denser downtown isn't for you. In the end, it comes down to experience, personal preference and other utterly subjective factors.
Okay, it doesn't make sense to me that we can have general economic development in Silicon Valley without development of housing and transportation to support it. But others think this development needs to occur elsewhere. NIMBYism? Of course. But we all have it, in one form or another.
Anyway, on Sunday I continued showing family members around the market. And then, over coffee, my Gloucestershire cousin's twentysomething daughter had a simple question about Measure M. "Is it a fight between people who have owned property here a long time and those who haven't?"
I gave her a nod. The truth is more complicated, of course. But I had nothing more to say.