I moved to San Francisco in July and it’s been a major adjustment. The biggest adjustment has been my fear and for many months I thought I was just soft. After all, in many ways, I am a former suburban housewife returning to the city for another reinvention of my life. I’ve been a master of this as I am fearless for the most part, but this was a big move and I had big hopes to match. I moved across the street from my factory even though the alley where I drop off my fabric is littered with needles and sleeping, homeless people and drug addicts. Being an optimist I ignored this. Now, with the fatal stabbing of Bob Lee in Ricoln Hill less than a mile from me I’m thinking I’m not so soft after all as I have learned to not be afraid living here and I do walk alone at night.
As a curious and keen observer what I noticed initially was how tolerant and helpful people are of the homeless population here. The homeless sit on the sidewalk with Starbucks iced coffees and to-go boxes of food. Eventually what I saw was not simply a homeless problem but a mental health and drug addiction crisis. That being said, the problem here that has been addressed with housing has not yet been solved.
If you don’t know Bob Lee, was the brilliant and much-loved former chief technology officer of Square who also helped launch Cash App. He is a brilliant mind and contributor to the many technological advances for businesses around the world. He is also the father of two daughters. I know as someone who lost my own father at nine and my husband who also left our two daughters this leaves an almost intolerable lifelong pain. We know that he was stabbed with a kitchen knife that was found nearby. We do not know yet exactly what happened, but we do know tech guys stay up late and walk around at night walking their dogs, or walking home from late nights at the office, so this is not unusual.
When I first moved to San Francisco I was able to hear Mayor London Breed speak at a community event. I was surprised that she talked primarily about keeping the Levi Corporate Head Quarters here but said nothing about cleaning up this filthy city. The sad thing is the homeless population is suffering and they need real care, not lattes and needles. This tragic act of violence will be a catalyst for change as this comes on the heels of concern over a potential “doom loop” scenario in which increasingly empty offices and streets lead to economic decay and increased crime rates.
It is heartbreaking to watch this all happen in San Francisco as many of us believed our darkest days were behind us. We can only hope that this is the tipping point that will create change.
Stay safe out there.
Love and blessings to all.