Left-Wing Policies Are Destroying San Francisco, Offering a Warning for the Future of America’s Cities

Speaker Pelosi is now seeing the left-wing policies she has supported for decades render useless her namesake 18-story federal office building at the city’s once-thriving downtown.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A homeless woman at San Francisco in 2019. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco is clearly in a period of dramatic decline.

When the city has to hire a “poop patrol” to find and remove human feces from the streets, there is something clearly wrong. In addition to dealing with the filth, taxpayers must dole out an estimated $184,000 per year for each patroller, according to Business Insider. 

Nordstrom announced its flagship San Francisco store is closing after 35 years in the city’s downtown. It is following brands such as Saks Off 5th, Anthropologie, Coco Republic, and Whole Foods Market. At least 17 stores have left the Union Square area.

But the latest signal of the Bay Area’s decay occurred when the federal government urged employees who work in the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building to stay home.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services told the Pelosi building staff to work from home because the neighborhood is simply too dangerous. 

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the city had “more than 7,754 homeless people, with nearly 4,400 sleeping on the streets, in a tent or in a vehicle” in 2022. In addition to sprawling homelessness and human feces, used drug needles litter the sidewalks. Walking around in open shoes poses real personal danger. 

Pedestrians are regularly approached (often aggressively) by vagrant people who are grappling with drug addiction, mental health disorders, or both. The general chaos and lack of policing means the area has become a hot zone for illicit activity of all kinds. Federal workers were urged to steer clear of the site “for the foreseeable future” as crime in the city continues to grow out of control. 

Ironically, Axios reported that “the memo reportedly was issued the same day President Biden called on his cabinet to ‘aggressively execute’ plans for federal employees to return to their offices after working remotely since the Covid-19 pandemic first began.”

I must confess a certain amount of partisan satisfaction. Mrs. Pelosi is the former Speaker of the House who publicly tore up President Trump’s State of the Union Address. She is now seeing the left-wing policies she has supported for decades render useless her namesake 18-story federal office building.

As an aside, I deeply oppose government buildings being named for living politicians. Taxpayers pay for these huge, expensive buildings. They should not be monuments (and therefore campaign ads) for living political egos. 

Further, having spent three and a half years in Rome while my wife Callista was the American ambassador to the Holy See, I know what real monuments to fame look like. A now-underused office building doesn’t rival the mausoleums of Emperors Augustus and Hadrian.

Regardless, San Francisco is clearly no longer the beautiful tourist and business destination it once was. And it’s unclear if the city can turn things around and recover in the near term. 

The bigger, more pressing question is: Will the American left realize why San Francisco has gotten so bad and change behavior? The truth is: The same bad policies concerning police, crime, welfare, drugs, and homelessness are doing the same things in many of our great cities.

From Seattle, to Chicago, to New York, to Washington, D.C., liberal leaders are slashing police budgets to appease their leftwing funders. As a result, there is a real law enforcement recruiting crisis. Departments across the country — in cities big and small — are finding it difficult to find or keep sworn officers. 

Those officers who remain are overworked, underpaid, and deeply underappreciated. This is exactly the recipe for creating dangerous police interactions — for officers, perpetrators, and law-abiding citizens.  

At the same time, left-wing prosecutors are running the most perilous social experiment of our lifetime. Vagrancy and loitering have been effectively decriminalized from lack of prosecution. Many property and drug crimes are similarly not being prosecuted. 

So, in many parts of the country, public parks and thoroughfares have become open-air drug markets. Those assailants who do get arrested for violence, drug sales, or major theft are regularly released without bail and return to the streets hours later.

All these ideological policy decisions are leading to chaos, crime, and danger.

Is San Francisco simply a warning which will lead liberal leaders to change their policies and save their cities? Or is it a warning to all of us that the ideology is too deep, and no amount of human excrement, lawlessness, and human decay can lead the American left back to rational policies that work?

My hunch is the latter. I just wonder how many cities must follow San Francisco before the American people say, “enough.”

The New York Sun

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