THIS Is Why San Francisco Is Dying

AP Photo/Ben Margot, File

Yesterday, Beege wrote about Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago's laser focus on what matters in Chicago, whose finances look more than a bit like Venezuela's: reparations. 

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Today, I bring you San Francisco, where in the Democrat Party's Mayor debate the most important issues in a city wracked by property crime, homelessness, and a terminal decline in Downtown business occupancy is threatening to destroy the city's finances and livability were debated. 

Yes, you read that right: Mayor London Breed, fighting to keep her job, asked her opponent a gotcha question: name three drag queens. 

Three drag queens, because if you don't know drag queens, you are utterly incapable of Making San Francisco Great Again. 

Is it any wonder that San Francisco is bleeding residents? 

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San Francisco has almost everything going for it, except San Franciscans. It is, arguably, the most beautiful city in America, blessed by a pleasant climate, extraordinary location, wealth beyond imagining, and a diverse population in a good way. 

Unfortunately the city is run by idiots, and the voters keep voting for the clinically insane. 

Journalists reporting on crime in the city get robbed; homeless people, when they are not overdosing on fentanyl, are crapping in the street or assaulting people. Shoplifting has become a team sport. And public transit is crumbling, crime-ridden, and now hides video of criminals to prevent racist stereotyping. 

In the midst of all these crises, including a decline in business property values that threatens to bankrupt the city, the Mayor's gotcha question tells you everything you need to know.

Name three drag queens. 

Huey, Dewey and Louie. Who cares, London? 

Unfortunately the answer may be that the voters of San Francisco do. 

One writer who wanted to write a debunking of the "San Francisco Is Doomed" narrative wrote this recently:

On Market, near 6th, a security guard stood in front of Blick art supply. He’d just ejected a man who had been smoking fentanyl inside the store, a man his bosses suggested he should refer to as “an unhoused guest.”

The guard, who described himself to me as “a cis white male who stands six feet tall,” had previously worked security one block east at the Anthropologie. But that, he said, was just for show. He wasn’t even supposed to try to stop shoplifters who, at other stores on  Market Street, filled up bags, or sometimes even suitcases, with food they needed to feed themselves or their families or merchandise to sell on the black market on Mission Street. But here, the guard told me, his co-workers’ pay depended on sales. His job was to make it tolerable for customers to shop.

Elsewhere in San Francisco, wisteria was blooming, crazy fragrant blooms, like lilac on MDMA. At Ocean Beach, runners stopped to marvel at an osprey hovering over the surfers. In Hayes Valley, recently rebranded Cerebral Valley, 20-somethings filled the AI hacker houses, eager to have the classic SF experience: getting rich while thinking they were saving the world. But none of that beauty, none of that wealth, was the guard’s reality. This stretch of Market Street was this three-block zone, four lanes wide, where he stood, alone, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., five days a week. The job was taking a toll.

A note to my fellow San Franciscians: I’m sorry. I know. There’s always some story in the East Coast press about how our city is dying. San Franciscians hate—HATE—these pieces. You’re a stooge and a traitor for writing one. When I set out reporting, I wanted to write a debunking-the-doom piece myself. Yet to live in San Francisco right now, to watch its streets, is to realize that no one will catch you if you fall. In the first three months of 2023, 200 San Franciscans OD’d, up 41 percent from last year.“It’s like a wasteland,” the guard said when I asked how San Francisco looked to him. “It’s like the only way to describe it. It’s like a video game — like made-up shit. Have you ever played Fallout?”

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The San Fransisco we all love is the wisteria version--and we even expect the quirkiness and weird utopianism that has characterized the city for decades. 

But the city is now a bad parody of itself, and as a consequence it is dying. Not dead yet. 

San Francisco needs Miracle Max--and, like Wesley in the Princess Bride, saving it is a noble cause. 

But it will take storming the castle to save the city, for one simple reason.

Name three drag queens is a gotcha question if you are running for mayor. No city can survive leaders like this. 

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 23, 2024
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