San Francisco – thanks to its balmy year-round climate and hospitable reputation – has long suffered from growing homelessness which, despite the city’s nosebleed-inducing taxes, it has been unable to curtail. This led to articles such our recent piece documenting the city’s 132,562 cases of human feces on city streets. As we noted then, San Francisco hosts an estimated homeless population of 7,500 people. As a result, affluent sections of the city have become borderline dangerous with open-air drug use, tens of thousands of discarded needles, and, sadly, overflowing human excrement.
And the city’s residents, like many liberals, seem to want to help only to a degree. For instance, angry residents have been recently packing public meetings to rally against Mayor London Breed’s new proposal for a homeless shelter on San Francisco’s waterfront, according to Bloomberg. The proposed center in the Embarcadero is a part of the mayor’s campaign to open 1,000 new shelter beds by the end of 2020. It’ll be put to a vote of commissioners on Tuesday.
The homes that surround the proposed shelter are pricey. A 3 bed, 3 bath condo sold nearby recently for about $2.5 million in February. The monthly HOA dues are $1,200.
After the plan was announced, opponents of it started a GoFundMe account to combat it, called “Safe Embarcadero for All.” A nasty battle ensued on social media between proponents and opponents on the project. The GoFundMe against it has raised $100,000 while the campaign for the shelter is at $175,000. The campaign for the project includes $25,000 from Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and $10,000 each from Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and Twilio chief executive Jeff Lawson.
This uproar marks the most recent example of the virtue-signaling struggle of the city, which is overwhelmed with tech wealth and is oh so very passionate about social justice. Or maybe it is all for show, as San Franciscans tend to be so very vocal when it comes to welcoming homeless people and migrants to American cities… just not their city.
Public meetings have reached a fever pitch, too. City Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, while in tears arguing a recent housing density development bill, invited her critics to visit poor seniors in her district who eat cat food for dinner. Supervisor Vallie Brown vigorously defended the legislation, despite opponents of the bill physically turning their back on her during the meeting.
San Francisco’s housing shortage isn’t helping either. It’s led to the Board of Supervisors being roasted on social media this month “for rejecting a 63-unit housing project because it would cast shadows over a nearby park in an area with little green space.”
Supervisor Aaron Peskin said: “We’re definitely at the boiling point, whether it’s the housing crisis, whether it’s quality of life, which is exacerbated by the worst traffic congestion in America, or the affordability crisis.”
And the IPOs of companies like Lyft have helped inject more wealth into the city – while convincing buyers to turn to San Francisco. This set off hearings on how all that new wealth will affect gentrification and city revenue. One realtor, John Townsend, said he had an article about the IPOs on hand while showing million dollar homes in the area. He claims there was “double the traffic” the weekend after the Lyft IPO took place. One condo he was showing for $1.15 million sold above its asking price.
Townsend said: “You’re going to have a period of incredible demand not just from tech, by any means, but by (interest) rates being lowered in the last week. The real problem is we can’t even remotely meet demand.”
Realtor Monica Sagullo said that the city’s market for homes under $2 million is “going nuts”. She commented: “The IPOs are in the back of people’s minds, and the people who have to buy are the ones who are going for it — the families that need houses, the double-incomes.”
A family of four that makes $117,400 a year is considered low-income in San Francisco. In the city, the median sale price of a two-bedroom house is $1.3 million. At the same time, thousands are homeless around the city, sleeping in alleys and doorways and in Golden Gate Park.
Supervisor Matt Haney concluded: “It’s very hard for people who are not on the very high end of things, in terms of wealth, to feel like they can even make it in San Francisco, or own or commit over the long term to be here, and that creates a lot of anxiety.”
Wallace Lee, a stay-at-home dad who is leading the opposition said: “Other people in the city casting us as wealthy people who don’t like to see the homeless population, it’s not true at all.”
“We have homeless people. I see them every day, and they’re nice people, but this is going to attract more. I used to love the city and be proud of the city. Now I’m not anymore. It’s dirty, and it’s ugly,” said resident Stacey Reynolds-Peterson.