San Francisco, failed city

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Man caught pooping in aisle of a Safeway store in San Francisco. (Khon2)

Matthew Lynn reports for The (UK) Telegraph, May 7, 2023:

San Francisco should be one of the best retail centres globally; an easy place to sell every kind of luxury good, fashion essentials and high end electronics. The money is there, as well as the people to spend it.

Yet this week, the department store Nordstrom announced it was shutting its locations in the city, joining a growing exodus of big name retailers. Household brands are in despair over the damage inflicted by an ultra-woke local government….

Nordstrom’s announcement was yet another blow for San Francisco’s battered retail industry. The company told employees it would not be renewing its leases at the Westfield Mall, nor at the Nordstrom Rack across the street, due to the “changed dynamics” in the city.

The “deteriorating situation in downtown San Francisco,” Westfield Mall told the Washington Post, has left both customers and staff unsafe.

The retailer is hardly the first to put up the “closing down sale” signs. The upmarket grocery chain Whole Foods has shuttered a flagship store; the H&M, Gap and Banana Republic have all left. While some British high streets risk becoming boarded-up wastelands, they could soon look positively vibrant compared to what used to be known as “the golden city”.

There is no great mystery here. Under its ultra-woke Mayor, London Breed, San Francisco has been testing out a wide array of faddish, progressive policies. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Breed was one of the first to jump on the “defund the police” bandwagon, cutting $120 million from the law and order budget.

Sales and corporate taxes have been pushed up. Homelessness has been tolerated right across the city centre. Motorists reportedly leave car windows and doors unlocked to deter overnight break-ins.

Last summer, a groups of business officials wrote to officials threatening to stop paying taxes if politicians failed to clear litter from the streets and stop people from openly taking drugs….

The quality of life has deteriorated steadily in San Francisco, not least for those who cannot afford to escape to the wealthier suburbs. Businesses are shunning the city, perhaps deterred by an increasingly unfavourable local tax, social and regulatory environment.

In 2021, foreign direct investment into new projects in San Francisco fell to their lowest level since 2009. And as shops close, real estate prices are tumbling. Let’s not forget that one of the big reasons the San Francisco based First Republic Bank had to be rescued was because of expected losses on property loans. The city is slipping into a vicious cycle of decline from which it is hard to see any exit….

There is a lesson in the closure of Nordstrom in San Francisco. It is one of the wealthiest places in the world. It has a per capita income of $160,000 (£126,000), according to figures from the Federal Reserve….

It is often complacently assumed that businesses will just take any amount of punishment so long as there are still customers with money to spend. You can push taxes up to any level you like, let crime run out of control, turn the streets over to vagrants, and impose as many virtue-signalling rules and regulations as you can think of, and they will stoically put up with it all because they need the market. San Francisco is a warning that that is simply not true.

There is always a final straw. That was true of Nordstrom and the golden city…. Ultra left local governments can destroy even successful cities – and once it starts it is almost impossible to reverse.


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Kelleigh Nelson
Kelleigh Nelson
11 months ago

Excellent expose of another beautiful city destroyed by Stalinist politics. The same holds true for Chicago’s Miracle Mile which was once so lovely and safe. Today over 30% of the stores have closed. My once glorious big “small-town” has gone toes up.

11 months ago

Thank you for this article, DrE. The complete crash of California is terrible for the whole country.

Gracie Storvika
Gracie Storvika
11 months ago

I’m sorry for offending anyone . . . but that joker pooping inside the Safeway store needs to have a turn at the whippin’ post. There is no excuse for this kind of incivility. Good grief, we are not looking at someone who is ill and lost control of their bowels, nor is this a baby or toddler. This just sickens me. Yet, these liberal fools continue to govern in ways that inflict such severe catastrophe on the rest of us.

Just a month ago, the manager at our Fred Meyer store (Kroger) when I questioned why there were no baskarts to use while shopping, said, “We brought in 250 new baskarts just one month ago–now this is all we have left” (there was perhaps 25 in the store and on their premises.) He went on to recount that just two weeks previously there had been a deranged man who was spitting at customers, and wielding a knife; Portland Police responded–they took this man abut two miles away and RELEASED him.

My heart would go out to the people of San Francisco, but I am too busy crying over how much of a cesspool my own city (Portland, Oregon) has become .

As far as I am concerned–ALL of the governmental leaders who have facilitated this breakdown of our society need to be imprisoned, and all of the wealth that they amassed during their reigns of terror should be confiscated and returned to the people.

Who in their right mind would have even envisioned that anything like this would have been allowed to occur.

11 months ago

I must ask this question, who did you vote for in the past elections, did you actually vet them, if not did you just listen to other people instead of researching policies and people yourself?
Sometimes we are our own worst enemy by the way we voted.

Douglas Freeland
11 months ago

Whoda thunk this could happen. Didn’t they just spend an exorbitant amount of $$$ to erect (can that term still be used) a flashy modern self cleaning palatial edifice to make taking a dump more accessible to the street people?

11 months ago

In 2013 I was on a tour of San Francisco that I helped finance/write through a federal US History GRANT for US History teachers for teachers in our /& nearby district. Even then, we took a tour of the first street in China Town….& I had to hold my breath b/c of the feces & urine encountered. There was much to study, including the downtown history archives ….& Angel Island, but I determined even then, with many other things I’ve not space/time to describe, I’d never go back again. That was a decade ago. Evidently it’s only gotten geometrically worse. Will never return to San Francisco. Will never return to many places I’ve spent time studying in history, like Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, & some I am not going to name, pending what they do next…..

Joan d Arc
Joan d Arc
10 months ago

Thank you Dr. E for this informative post, yet again, most tragic. It used to be one of my favorite cities, but no more, so full of ugliness. . . Shameful.