Apropos all the U-T San Diego/Manchester clamoring for a waterfront re-do for San Diego, and possible loss of most that is currently there, and heeding the note from the Seattle source, I have to suggest that a city develops character over time — lots of time — mostly from the aging and maturing of its many architectural and common-space facets.

When new folk move in with dollar signs flashing before their eyes, we run the risk of being transformed from an old, time worn, comfortable coffee place to a flashy version of the latest eatery. All fine and dandy if your raison d’etre is tourist attraction and retail commerce, such as high-occupancy rates for hotels, or increased sales tax revenue from tourist dollars spent in your city. For that matter, nothing beats leasing the entire waterfront to Disney to do as they choose with.

We would have to create a whole new burial ground to deal with the demise of civic pride, however. Old cities are old, and proud to let their age show. Wharfs, fishing boats at the dock, ships at their piers, wooden jetties wading in to the bay, old wind-twisted trees with their roots clutching at the waterside embankments, herons wading in smelly mudflats: nothing that Conde Nast Traveler would give a bunch of stars to, but it would be home, to be passed on down the generational stairway.

I have walked on the same paving stones my grandfather trod and hope my grandchildren will follow in our footsteps as they marvel at the ancient relics that still work together to coalesce around the idea of a city: a city with character. San Diego goes back a long ways, and that should always show.

Abhi Buch lives in San Diego.

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Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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