Letters: San Francisco just isn’t what it used to be

Caffe Trieste in San Francisco's North Beach opened in 1956.
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

I read with great interest and sadness the article about San Francisco’s North Beach (“At Its Tipping Point?,” by Christopher Reynolds, Sept. 15). My wife and I used to travel to San Francisco at least once a year to enjoy the city and its ambiance. We enjoyed going to Molinari Delicatessen, buying a couple of sandwiches and wandering to Vesuvio Café to enjoy them with a couple of beers.

There was always coffee at Caffe Trieste and dinner at Sam Wo Restaurant, which is in a new location. Or we jumped on the California Street cable car to the Bank of America building and the Carnelian Room (now closed) at the top for cocktails. Cable cars are now $7 a pop. (I remember when they were 25 cents.) Then there was the slaying of Kate Steinle on Fisherman’s Wharf. Then came the feces map, warning residents and tourists alike about areas to avoid because of human waste. That was the last straw.

Herb Caen, San Francisco’s famous columnist, once wrote, “Every man has two cities. His own and San Francisco.” Sorry, Herb, not anymore. San Francisco has passed its tipping point. The poor guy must be turning over in his grave to see that what he once described as his “Baghdad by the Bay” has morphed into the “S— Hole by the Sea.”

Joseph Lea
Mission Viejo


It takes patience and talent to capture these creatures’ best moments. Here are photo submissions from our Summer Vacation Photo issue.

Don’t forget the parks pass

George Hobica’s article (“A Key to the City? Close...,” Sept. 15) seemed mostly to be about passes for urban attractions (and I commend you for their inclusion). But I was surprised that the most valuable domestic pass was omitted: We just received our lifetime National Parks Pass for seniors. Yes, lifetime. For $80, all national parks and many federal lands are free with purchase of this pass by those 62 and older. Talk about value.

Jon Merritt
Las Vegas

The pleasure and pain points converge in the annual evaluation of your summer moments.

Not what it used to be either

My husband and I have taken the Amtrak Coast Starlight train from Los Angeles to Seattle and back many times over the years. The quality of service, food and accommodations has really declined.

What was once a wonderful trip with a nice, clean room, good food in the dining car, attentive service and a private lounge car is now a very difficult and unpleasant trip because of many cutbacks. The train is not well maintained, the food is average and there seem to be fewer attendants.

The only thing that has not declined is the price. We are rethinking taking this trip again.

Shelley Butler