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Commentary: The Two Faces of San Francisco

Commentary: The Two Faces of San Francisco

By Joel Fox.

You might label the following review of the City by the Bay a “Tale of One City.” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. In short, San Francisco, circa 2018, is both at the same time the shining city on the hill and the third and fourth circle of Hell from Dante’s Inferno.

Consider the best of times:

According to Business Insider, along with San Jose, the San Francisco metro area has the strongest economy in the United States.

The same publication considered wealth of communities and concluded, “The typical San Francisco household makes about $96,677 each year. That’s nearly double the national median household income of $57,617, according to the US Census Bureau.”

Fortune reports the median housing price in the city rose $205,000 in a six-month period.

Some of the most influential, richest companies in the world call the San Francisco Bay Area home.

The political power center of the state, which produces leaders who hold both state and federal offices, is San Francisco.

For many, a cultural vanguard.

Consider the worst of times:

New mayor London Breed walks the streets of San Francisco and complains she has never seen as much human feces piled on the sidewalks.

Three people are murdered at BART stations in only five days.

A man posts on Facebook a picture of a man passed out on the sidewalk in the middle of day with drug paraphernalia next to him.

A woman sponsors an anonymous ad in the San Francisco Chronicle complaining about the city conditions and the unchecked homelessness crisis. The ad concludes, “We, the taxpaying, responsible contributing members of society have had our quality of life as San Franciscans seriously compromised, dangerously so.”

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Despite the city’s prosperity, the scale seems to be tipping against the environment created in San Francisco by both ultra business success and permissive attitudes.

There’s evidence that people don’t want to come to San Francisco and many San Franciscans want to leave.

A convention industry newsletter reports, “A major Chicago-based medical association is moving its $40 million convention out of San Francisco due to safety concerns for attendees. The city’s—and in particular the Moscone Convention Center’s SoMa neighborhood’s—open drug use and homelessness issues are being blamed for the decision.”

The Bay Area Council, an influential business booster group, conducts an annual survey of issues in the community and discovered in the last poll that 46% of the Bay Area residents are planning to leave. Housing, traffic and homelessness were the top reasons given. Only 25% said the area was headed in the right direction

Could San Francisco as Shangri-La just be a façade?

In a sense, San Francisco’s problems represent all of California. Silicon Valley and Hollywood showcase glamour and riches beyond imaging for most people. Yet, California is home to the greatest poverty rate in the country. A third of the state’s residents are on MediCal. Homelessness stalks the land while home prices break all kinds of records.

If one of the richest areas of the world cannot prevent a descent into the lower circles of darkness, how will the rest of the state cope with the clash of good fortune and despair?

Originally posted at Fox & Hounds Daily.

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