Beautiful & Troubled San Francisco

Lincoln Park, San Francisco

I’ve lived in San Francisco for nine months after moving from my family home in a bucolic neighborhood in the sleepy suburbs. At the time I desperately needed a change and I was asked to teach a UC Berkeley Leadership and Management class in person here on Spear Street near where Bob Lee was just murdered. At the time, in early summer, the city was on the rise and everyone was returning to work and in-person events. I agreed to teach two classes in S.F. and it made sense to move here instead of commuting. I could walk to work and set my life up for an urban adventure.

Fast forward a few months and we have the high-profile murder of Bob Lee down the street and the near-fatal beating of the former San Francisco Fire Chief in the Marina District just over the hill. The question, “Why am I here?” runs through my mind on repeat.

However the best-laid plans can be upended as things change. The Effective Leadership class was returned to an on-line format and my Management class was canceled. My Business Negotiation class was moved to the UC Berkeley campus. I would not be walking to work or safely walking anywhere, but I didn’t know that then. As things changed I adapted, but it still felt strange to be working online from San Francisco as I could honestly live anywhere.

Why am I here? I’m here because my factory for Ocean SF is across the street from my building and I love my building. I especially love my neighbors here from all over the world. The building is beautifully designed with interior spaces like a library, a terrace, a bar, and a gym. We have a great time here. It is also a convenient to walk over to Nob Hill to see my daughter. The other day we walked through China Town and she bought me a lucky cat and a moonstone egg. We sat in the sunshine in North Beach and watched the people go by. Yesterday friends came into the city to shop and we had a personal stylist at Nordstrom and then Champagne in the dressing room at Bloomingdales. This was followed by one of these boozy lunches where you go home and take a nap. I love the museums and the Ferry Building too. I love so much of San Francisco.

But…

They are closing Whole Foods near me. They are closing Safeway. Both due to crime and safety concerns for their employees. The city is poorly run and a Doom Loop scenario is cautioned. The tech boom made San Francisco the nation’s most expensive office rental market. Office work, concentrated downtown then accounted for more than 75% of the city’s GDP and the area generated 95% of the city’s business tax revenue in 2021. Now it is the emptiest part of the city and with the death of Bob Lee it will likely remain so. A potential doom loop now feels inevitable as the leases for tech companies with workers who can and want to work from home expire. This will leave the city millions short in funds to cover desperately needed programs and police.

In the past, the lack of safety and concern for residents here was ignored as frequent muggings occurred and crime against personal property of the residents soared. Offenders were often not prosecuted if they were caught at all. Drug use on the streets and on public transportation has become the norm. I saw a man sitting in front of Burger King today sticking a needle in his arm. Near him were two amazingly tolerant guys eating their lunch. People have had to put up with all of this in the past because their jobs were here, but now they no longer have to. Talented workers are not returning and why would they? San Francisco needs a people-first mentality. They need to fix the broken parts of the city and heal the wounds neglect has caused or we really are in for a doom loop.

They say that crime is not that bad and that statistics show it is lower now than in the past and lower than in other cities. The statistics may be true, but that is not the whole story here. People DO NOT GO OUT here like they do in Miami. They do not walk down the street after 9 p.m. and there are MANY places we can NOT go day or night. We are always alert and automatically cross the street to avoid problematic people. If we do go out we take an UBER door to door. You do not as a woman park in a garage at night. The citizens have lowered crime statistics by changing how they live and we mostly live in fear here. It is also important to note that the police force has been greatly diminished and they do not show up to even record a majority of the crime that goes on here. So, the statistics and reality do not add up. San Francisco is not a safe place to live and that is a fact. We can say it’s not true, but it is. We have made it that way by allowing crime to prevail and failing to invest in this city by enforcing the laws that protect the people who live and work here.

Empathy is upmost in this situation. There are people on the street that are not just homeless, they are addicted and mentally ill. The city is not caring for them either. What the leadership decided to do to solve the problems of this tragic group of people has not worked and here we are.

People are not enraged by the brutal murder of Bob Lee because he was white. Bob Lee and his horrific death is the critical point beyond which this city cannot go before an unstoppable effect takes place and this beautiful city is lost forever.

My lease is up in July. I will either commit to this and make it better, or I will move.

Love and blessings to all.

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