To put it mildly, things haven’t been going well in Nancy Pelosi’s home stomping grounds of San Francisco. The homelessness plague is out of control and crime has been on the rise in ways that even the most liberal and forgiving residents can no longer ignore. The problem was compounded in multiple ways when Chesa Boudin was elected to be the District Attorney after running on a platform of getting rid of the police and promising to not prosecute “smaller crimes.” (Boudin is now facing a recall election.) The filth and the property crime are driving some people to look for a way out and flee the city. The Associated Press talked to several such beleaguered residents recently and heard horror stories that are increasingly familiar. One of those is Caitlin Foster, the manager of a bar in the formerly upscale Hayes Valley neighborhood. She moved to San Francisco from Seattle more than a decade ago, saying it had always been her dream. But now she’s looking to get out because the dream has apparently turned into a nightmare.
San Franciscans take pride in their liberal political bent and generously approve tax measures for schools and the homeless. They accept that trashy streets, tent encampments and petty crime are the price to pay to live in an urban wonderland.
But the frustration felt by Foster, who moved from Seattle in search of more sunshine, is growing among residents who now see a city in decline. There are signs that the city famous for its tolerance is losing patience.
The pandemic emptied parts of San Francisco and highlighted some of its drawbacks: human and dog feces smeared across sidewalks, home and vehicle break-ins, overflowing trash cans, and a laissez-faire approach by officials to brazen drug dealing. Parents despaired as public schools stayed closed for most of last year as nearby districts welcomed children back to the classroom.
Others that the AP spoke to are keenly aware of the stories making the local news that show how far things have gone off the beam. Another resident brought up the tale of a local woman who was finally arrested after stealing more than $40,000 in goods from a Target store during more than 120 visits. She was later arrested for shoplifting again after failing to appear in court to get an ankle monitor.
Another woman complained that when she spoke up about wanting the laws enforced, she was publicly branded as a “racist.” And these are people who admit that they cheered when Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and had supported many progressive candidates. Now, however, it appears to have all become too much. That same woman said she had “realized too late that Democratic activists have hijacked her city.”
It sounds as if some of Nancy Pelosi’s base has woken up to a distressing realization. It’s not one person or one issue or one policy that is destroying San Francisco. Yes, the crime is bad. The homelessness, frequently compounded by drug and alcohol addiction is bad. The filth and the open markets for drugs and other illicit activity are bad. But all of these things are the result of decades of progressively more and more liberal policies that opened the door and invited all of this to happen.
The people that the residents of San Francisco keep electing have sold a dreamlike vision of a city where everyone is welcome, nobody is judged, and there should be prosperity for all. They chose to blame the police for their problems and ignore those who are actively committing crimes and helping turn the streets into a filthy maze that is no longer safe to walk through.
I invite you to click through to the Associated Press article and read the other interviews. Yes, there are still some who claim that these policies will eventually work and the city will recover. But even they are being forced to recognize what a hot mess San Francisco has become. It’s not all the fault of Chesa Boudin (though he certainly makes matters worse) and it’s really not entirely the fault of the mayor or the City Council. It’s the fault of the culture that took root in San Francisco and the voters who believed the fantasies they were being sold and kept electing people who promised to makes those fantasies a reality. And now they’re paying the price for it.