San Francisco small business owners say their ability to keep the doors open is being threatened by the city’s high level of crime. Earlier this month there was a break in at a tea shop called Boba Guys. The owner published a photo of his smashed front glass on Instagram along with a message saying he’d seen the city “transform into Gotham” and suggesting it was time for small business owners to “take our city back.”
We just had our third break-in in SF this year. Another broken window which we will board up immediately. Seems like we’ve seen a lot of boarded up windows and empty storefronts these days.
We are known for our transparency and empathy, so here’s an official statement. People, especially other small businesses, wanted us to speak out more since the last break in. We all know property crimes are skyrocketing in SF. We are turning into Gotham with the jokers taking over the city…
SF is a shell of what it used to be— I’m a local, son of a retired Muni bus operator and Pacific Bell call center representative. I’ve seen this city transform into Gotham and it makes me sad. It’s time for radical solutions that think long term.
It’s time we take our city back. You’ll see us wearing the cape made out of our paper napkins and bamboo boba straw in our utility belt. A little boba shop can stir shit up. We did it for an industry… we are sure we can do it for a city.
That statement resonated with other small business owners who’ve experienced the same sort of threat to their livelihoods because of crime:
Within the first 16 months after it opened, Pine Tar Grill, Martin’s San Francisco Giants-themed business on Folsom Street filled with sports memorabilia, was burglarized three times. The final incident was caught on camera, showing a person breaking the glass of the front door at around 4 a.m. to steal cash, sports-related bobblehead toys and computers, Martin said.
Repairs cost thousands of dollars and were a big factor in his decision to close the bar last month…
At the fine dining destination Nightbird and its adjoining bar, Linden Room, in Hayes Valley, chef-owner Kim Alter said it isn’t unusual to find crowbar marks on the doors of her building from people trying to break in after hours. She recently spent roughly $6,000 to install a new security system to deter property crime and $15,000 installing gates over her doors. Such expenses are pushing businesses away from the city, she added.
“No one wants to open a restaurant in San Francisco,” said Alter, who wants to expand in the city but isn’t sure it’s currently a good idea.
Last October, FBI data showed that San Francisco had the highest property crime rate per capita of major cities in the United States, with around 150 property crimes per day. All of that creates a massive drag on small businesses. When you add in the drugs, the filth, the presence and violence from homeless people, you have streets that fewer people want to visit, making it more difficult for businesses to stay afloat.
Last year I wrote about a small business owner named Jeffrey Woo who witnessed what he would later call an attempted murder outside his office. ““San Francisco! We live in a pretty f**ked up city, no other way to really put it,” Woo said at the time. Imagine trying to entice customers with this taking place out front:
Request for help @sfgov @SFPD @LondonBreed. My coworker took this video this morning outside our 38 Mason St office. I’m a small business owner, and it’s dangerous & unsafe for my employees to be walking in a war zone. Days with police presence are much better. We need more. pic.twitter.com/zwWdO2d4Ub
— Geoffrey Woo (@geoffreywoo) December 19, 2018
Two months ago, KPIX reported on the closing of a bar located across the street from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Smiths was opened in the early 2000s but its owner said he was shutting down because the corner out front had become a place where organized drug deals take place every day. In fact, KPIX captured drug deals taking place while filming interviews for this story. It’s a shame the city can’t seem to do any better than this for its residents.