The new Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, is beside herself at the abject squalor resulting from decades of "progressive" policies that encourage homeless residents to use the streets as their personal toilet.
In an interview with local station NBC Bay Area, Breed acknowledged that the poo-coated city she was born and raised in has a "huge problem" she aims to clean up.
"I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here," Breed said. "That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans."
Unfortunately, her solution is to simply ask the city's estimated 7,500 vagrants to kindly stop with all the street-squatting and clean up after themselves. Considering that 39% of homeless surveyed in San Francisco's "homeless census" claim to have mental health issues, we're not entirely sure how this policy will work.
When pressed about whether her plan calls for harsher penalties against those who litter or defecate on city streets, Breed said "I didn’t express anything about a penalty." Instead, the mayor said she has encouraged nonprofits "to talk to their clients, who, unfortunately, were mostly responsible for the conditions of our streets." -NBC Bay Area
"I work hard to make sure your programs are funded for the purposes of trying to get these individuals help, and what I am asking you to do is work with your clients and ask them to at least have respect for the community — at least, clean up after themselves and show respect to one another and people in the neighborhood," Breed told NBC, referencing her conversations with nonprofit groups aimed at serving the homeless.
San Francisco's "huge problem" isn't restricted to poo either - the city is full of drug addicts who are more or less allowed to just do their thing. On Friday, two days after Breed was sworn into office, she went on a jaunt around the city in an afternoon stroll, where a guy was literally prepping to shoot up as she walked past.
San Francisco will spend around $280 million this year on homeless housing and services - roughly 40% higher than the city spent five years ago. Meanwhile, the number of homeless has remained more or less steady at 7,500.
The city spent $65 million in 2017 on street cleaning, and will boost that by $13 million over the next two years.
"I don’t think that the city is poorly spending what it already has," Breed said. "I spend a lot of time on Fillmore Street. I see the people who are part of a program, out there power washing. They’re out there doing what they can to keep the community clean, almost every day, and then right after they leave, maybe an hour or two later, the place is filled with trash again."
Over 16,000 feces complaints were logged with the City over a seven day period at the beginning of July, according to a local website and app that lets residents report none-emergency services, reports Dan Lyman of NewsWars:
Many of the complaints also connect the fecal matter to vagrants and homeless encampments - a sight all too common now across California.
Users can geotag the location in question, and also provide photos to support their claim.
“Homeless encampment is blocking sidewalk and creates a health hazard w trash and feces,” writes one user.
“Please move them, and send a cleaning crew. Sidewalk is impassable, forcing pedestrians into the street.”
“Homeless individuals sleeping along Funston between Clement and Geary,” writes another user.
“Observed homeless people shooting up at 5pm on Monday, July 2nd. Lots of feces and garbage in the area. Please clean up area and see if homeless individuals need services.”
A recent NBC Bay Area investigation into the alarming volume of trash, drug needles and fecal matter around a 153-block area of San Francisco revealed "trash on every block, 100 needles, and more than 300 piles of feces along the 20-mile stretch of streets and sidewalks."
As the Investigative Unit photographed nearly a dozen hypodermic needles scattered across one block, a group of preschool students happened to walk by on their way to an afternoon field trip to city hall.
“We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash,” said teacher Adelita Orellana. “Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a 2-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.” -NBC Bay Area
Meanwhile, residents and tourists alike are turning green over the rampant squalor. Now, it's starting to affect the city's bottom line. Earlier this month, a major medical convention expected to bring in 15,000 visitors and drop $40 million in less than a week decided to permanently move to another city. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It’s the first time that we have had an out-and-out cancellation over the issue, and this is a group that has been coming here every three or four years since the 1980s,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of S.F. Travel, the city’s convention bureau…
“They said that they are committed to this year and to 2023, but nothing in between or nothing thereafter,” D’Alessandro said. “After that, they told us they are planning to go elsewhere — I believe it’s Los Angeles.”
The doctors group told the San Francisco delegation that while they loved the city, postconvention surveys showed their members were afraid to walk amid the open drug use, threatening behavior and mental illness that are common on the streets.
It’s not hard to see why tourists would look for a nicer place to visit. The city is filled with homeless camps, open drug use in public areas, and petty crime. There were 31,000 thefts from vehicles reported in 2017, which works out to 85 per day. Garbage, drug needles, and human feces are ubiquitous sights and smells on the streets. The same week that the medical convention canceled, local news reported on a 20-pound bag of feces that was abandoned on the street.
CBS affiliate KPIX 5 ran a story on the convention complete with man-on-the-street interviews. The people they talked to aren’t shocked by the decision:
Tourists once took home memories of famed cable cars. These days, too often it is of the image of someone begging, or dancing in circles, or just wandering around the streets intoxicated or mentally ill.
“You can smell it,” says one tourist.
“I come from a third world county and it is not as bad as this,” says another.
Here’s the report.
Last month we reported on an Australian couple visiting the city who were shocked by what they saw after deciding to walk back to their hotel:
"Is this normal or am I in a 'bad part of town?' Just walked past numerous homeless off their faces, screaming and running all over the sidewalk near Twitter HQ and then a murder scene. Wife is scared to leave hotel now," reads a Wednesday posting by Reddit user /u/nashtendo.
It was my wife that was scared and it was partly the mass of concentrated, drug affected homeless mixed with a guy being rolled into an ambulance dead. -/u/nashtendo
"We did La and Nyc on this trip too. Both felt safer," he said later in the thread, adding "Syringes were visible, people were staggering, others had wide aggressive eyes. 'Off their faces' might be an Australian thing (sorry) but I meant just visibly drug affected."
Another Reddit user replied:
It's pretty normal. I'm honestly hoping tourists will realize how shitty this city has become and stop coming. Maybe the loss of income will finally push the city to stop allowing the rampant drug dealing and homeless people treating the entire city like their toilet. You would think a city that depends so heavily on tourism and conventions for the bulk of their income would put more effort into maintaining a certain standard, but there is rampant drug dealing out in the open in some of the most heavily tourist areas. The city know about it, they just don't care. -/u/SgtPeanutbutter
"You see things on the streets that are just not humane," Kevin Carroll, executive director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco told The Chronicle's Heather Knight in April. "People come into hotels saying, 'What is going on out there?' They're just shocked. ... People say, 'I love your city, I love your restaurants, but I'll never come back.'"
Complicating matters is the fact that the city distributes nearly 5 million needles each year through various programs aimed at reducing HIV and other health risks for drug users who might otherwise share needles.
The city distributes an estimated 400,000 syringes each month through various programs aimed at reducing HIV and other health risks for drug users. About 246,000 syringes are discarded through the city's 13 syringe access and disposal sites. But thousands of the others end up on streets, in parks and other public areas... -AP
While syringes discarded in public areas have become a nationwide problem amid a growing opium crisis, the problem in population-dense San Francisco (about 50 square miles) is much more noticeable given the city's growing homeless population. Last year there were 9,500 requests by residents for needle pick-ups by the city. So far this year, there have been 3,700 requests.
And again, Mayor Breed's new plan is to have nonprofit homeless outreach organizations simply ask vagrants to stop kindly refrain from evacuating their bowels in the street - something we're guessing the drug-addled segment of San Francisco's homeless population might not remember halfway through a bender.
Breed is also planning to open a string of new "safe drug injection sites," which would include booths where drug users can inject drugs, as well as so-called "chill rooms" where they can ride out their highs in a safe environment.
“While there’s an amazing amount of support already in place for these kinds of facilities, there’s still a need to bring in the community as a whole, and that’s why we support a project like this,” said a spokesman for Glide Memorial Methodist Church in the Tenderloin, Robert Avila, to the SF Chronicle.
“It’s about getting people off the street, from shooting up publicly and getting needles off the streets,” said Mayor. “These places provide a location for people to be when they’re going through what they’re going through after they shoot up.”
We hope to God there are toilets.