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Stretching the boundaries of the Bay Area – The Mercury News

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- Hirdetés -

New challenges, renewed promise

- Hirdetés -

With more people moving into the area and more businesses popping up, some residents already are feeling the pinch of rising rents and home prices. Veronica Ramos moved from the Bay Area with her family to Tracy when she was just a child. She braved harrowing commutes to attend college in San Francisco before finding a job in Livermore in fashion and retail, the fields she studied.

But the recent graduate gave up a dream job in Livermore to work closer to home only to find she couldn’t afford to live in Tracy anymore, she said. She moved to the Sacramento area for a little more financial freedom and now commutes into the Central Valley, a trend Ammann said is becoming more common. Rents grew an average of 6 percent last year in Tracy, compared to 3 percent in Sacramento.

“I had to sacrifice doing what I wanted to do to get a job out here,” Ramos said. “But it wasn’t enough for me to afford to live here and still go out.”

In Stockton, where politics have long skewed red and Bay Area progressives dismiss the city as backwards, Mayor Michael Tubbs has drawn national attention with bold poverty-busting policies that focus on childhood education and social services to combat crime.

It’s one of the reasons Rusten could see himself relocating there, he said. And it spurred the sibling trio, Phoenix, Malachi and Mirabi Trent, to establish a nonprofit maker-space, called HATCH Workshop, in Stockton. With HATCH and interior decor company Most Modest — which got its start in South San Francisco and officially moved to Stockton in September — Rusten sees the start of a craftsman community that could lure more Bay Area artisans east.

After all, that’s what drew Rusten there — the potential to be part of something bigger.

Working in San Francisco’s Mission District, it was hard to feel engaged with the local community, he said. The problems seemed too big, the players too powerful. In Stockton, he sits on the downtown alliance’s board of directors. He helped Most Modest and HATCH find spaces to operate. It feels as if he can actually be part of turning a once-struggling city with a reputation for crime into a destination.

“In San Francisco, at that time, we just felt like the first wave of gentrifiers, and it didn’t feel good,” Rusten said. “The thing that’s so exciting with downtown Stockton is that so much of it was just abandoned. There was nobody to displace. It’s like a blank canvas.”

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