Beautiful & Troubled — More on Living in San Francisco And The Need for Great Leadership

For better or worse I have a front-row seat to the doom spiral happening in San Francisco right now. I moved here in August to start my next chapter. My children were raised and it was time for me to make changes that would support both my career and interests. As I love technology, teaching leadership at UC Berkeley, and coaching moving to the city was a logical choice, plus I love to sail and spend time on the water. Looking back this was a very brave and hopeful thing to do, but there are moments when we have to move into the unknown to challenge ourselves and grow, so I am without regrets. I am glad I made this move regardless of the difficulty of living in such a troubled environment. I think it has deepened me as a person and given me insight into the world that I would not have gained in my suburban town. 

I didn’t know what the future held because in August the city was hopeful the technology workers would be coming back to their jobs and businesses would begin to thrive again. 

This didn’t happen and although things have improved slightly in some areas they have dramatically deteriorated in others. It is becoming apparent that the tech industry can not save San Francisco. However, San Francisco is the city to watch as the West Coast grapples with the fallout of Covid. Other major cities have been impacted, especially Portland, Oregon my other hometown, but we are the slowest to recover. There is a great deal of blame going around. Many blame the technology industry that once drove commercial and residential prices sky high, others blame crime and the mismanagement of San Francisco by progressive leaders. Others blame London Breed. Who knows what the real cause is, it is likely a combination of all of the above, but the result is a very big mess here in the most beautiful city in the world.

London Breeds rhetoric on homelessness earned her the scorn of progressives who already perceived her as just another handmaiden to the city’s wealthiest who would rather sweep away problems than solve their root causes. — Politico

Mayor Breed’s back story is truly incredible. She grew up in a housing project in the city’s Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco, although ornate Victorian homes lined the streets they were riddled with gunfire and violence. She did not know her father and her mother was barely in the picture, and she was raised by her grandmother. Her brother struggled with addiction and was sent to prison after a woman was killed by oncoming traffic when he pushed her from a getaway car. Breed’s sister died of a drug overdose. So, I wouldn’t call her a handmaiden to the rich, but her past shows a familiarity with the issues and a deep understanding of what is happening in the city now. She is trying to walk the thin line in the middle and that is not an easy job in this city and so far it’s not been very effective. Again, I am always going back to the premise that we need great leadership to thrive and we are not there yet in San Francisco.

San Francisco’s economic recovery remains slow. The jobless rate in March rose to 3%, up from 2% in December after a series of tech layoffs, but there are signs of slight improvement that might point to the loop spiral reversing.

Ridership on the Muni Metro subway and exits at downtown BART stations increased modestly in February compared to their levels in earlier winter months. The number of new business formations is trending upward, with the most recent three-month average for new restaurants and bars reaching a level not seen since 2019.

“The story of San Francisco’s recovery is slow,” said Egan, the city’s chief economist. “And the slow recovery is continuing.” — San Francisco Chronical

As we move into Q2 of 2023 I am hoping to see more signs of improvement and perhaps a miracle. As a very optimistic person, I do think somehow that could happen. We have all of the ingredients for a great city (plus office space to spare) we are only in need of great leadership. Please share your thoughts on the future of San Francisco in the comments below.

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