As usual, I’m a bit behind on this one, but worth posting nonetheless:

“… But all I had my eyes opened to was the fact that Ann Arbor isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s too liberal, too expensive and too phony. It’s a small town that masquerades as the ultra-hip center of the universe or at least the Midwest. Ann Arbor struts with the arrogance of New York but lacks the history, culture and importance to back it up.

Recent times have only lowered my opinion of Ann Arbor. The city is plagued by a seemingly perpetual string of burglaries one of which I had the honor of experiencing firsthand last year when a couple of brilliant high schoolers broke into our house when my housemates and I were all home and assaults, some of them taking place in conspicuous locations in the hours of the afternoon and early evening. An ever-growing homeless population is treated like dirt and responds with rudeness and vulgarity (except for the nice man who hangs out at Nickels Arcade and under the Arch God bless you, too, sir). Housing gets more and more expensive every year as the already decrepit apartments and houses get older and older.

The worst part of the situation is that the majority of Ann Arborites are happily oblivious to the city’s inferiority. They pretentiously carry on thinking their city is the second coming of New York. But this isn’t New York, and it never will be. … “

> From the Joel Hoard’s column: “Ann Arbor: A nicer place to be?”

While interesting, I must say I disagree that the problem with Ann Arbor is a lack of “niceness,” or being “too liberal.” I believe any place where there are lots of strangers, whether a University town or large city, there will be fewer friendly hellos since fewer people actually know eachother, and more are new to the place.

To me, the issue with Ann Arbor is certainly the attitude: while the city thinks itself liberal, their idea of helping out the homeless is spending millions on a new shelter that won’t have any more beds than the old. Many live in fear of students, keeping them politically and legally (through zoning) limited to neighborhoods around campus, and shut out of city government. And, while “conservative” Grand Rapids has embraced an ideology of “smart growth” in the 1990s, it is only in 2003 after a hard-fought political battle can a meagre anti-sprawl stopgap be put in place to slow sprawl here in Ann Arbor, where most live in ugly sprawl and drive to the (non-union) Whole Foods to buy their groceries. And think you’d like to build a building taller than 6 or 7 stories in most places downtown? Good luck: Ann Arbor’s worried about losing that “European” flavor. (Or should I say flavour?) To top it all off, nary a peep is heard from the city’s ruling elite when the Technology Center, an old warehouse home to much of what Ann Arbor could rightfully call its culture, was purchased and razed to make room for a new YMCA last summer. Lest I sound too pessimistic, I’ll be clear: Ann Arbor is certainly a nicer place to live than many places in Michigan, it’s not six square miles of heaven, either.

Author: Rob