In July, walking around the fifty blocks of the Tenderloin, San Francisco’s fentanyl epicenter, I often saw notes like this one posted on lampposts: “Mimi—5’, 100 lbs.—we miss you terribly. Please call any family member. Please call 202 [number].” The Mimis are often hidden in tents, but even for a first-time visitor like me, the dealers and their deals were highly visible. Dealers, often teenagers in clean Nikes, walked alongside potential buyers. They did not just stand at particular corners, as a great streaming television series based in Baltimore, The Wire, showed: These dealers floated up and down a block. Police say they are independent contractors, trying to establish their own clientele, and earning $300 or more on an average Read More ›
It should come as no surprise that an enterprising San Franciscan came up with the idea to host a “doom loop” tour of the moldering city on a hill. The plot twist is that Alex Ludlum, who put together the tour, canceled and refunded tickets for his “Downtown Doom Loop Walking Tour” before its intended Aug. 26 debut. That would be the weekend Nordstrom shuttered its flagship store in downtown San Francisco. It turns out, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, Ludlum serves on Ess Eff’s Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure. He had planned on giving the tour as an “anonymous insider.” After his identity was outed, Ludlum apologized for a “deep error in judgment” and canceled the tour. “How Read More ›
This column is the second in a series. To read part one, click here. I’ll come back to the sights and sounds of the Orange County Rescue Mission, but after four days there I flew to San Francisco and walked around that city. The old song notwithstanding, few Americans these days leave their hearts there. Tourists still visit Fisherman’s Wharf and ride the cable cars, but books with titles like San Fransicko hit hard, and videos of addicts in SF’s Tenderloin neighborhood are stomach-churning. What’s happening in San Francisco is both better and worse than those dramatic presentations. The Noe Valley neighborhood, for instance, features Victorian houses, small markets, and cafes. Nearby Bernal Heights (sometimes referred to as “maternal heights”) Read More ›
I left San Francisco just in time — at the end of 2016. Sure, I saw the occasional junkie shooting up in public when I still worked in the city. And yes, I saw men use the sidewalk at the intersection of 5th and Market Streets as a toilet. But I never saw swarms of shoplifters emptying pharmacy shelves. If I needed new shoes, I could pop over to Nordstrom at the Westfield San Francisco Centre at 5th and Market. The number of friends who had stopped going into the city entirely — and switched to shopping in suburban malls — was unsettling, but tourists could help fill the gap. This week, sadly, Nordstrom announced it won’t renew its lease Read More ›
This is Portland @RJBalpha continuing his journey throughout West Coast/PNW. He says sweeps continue under @tedwheeler in #Portland, but homeless encampments continue to spread further out from Downtown core. Similar pattern developing in #Seattle. San Francisco is Dystopian @RJBalpha was also in Tenderloin neighborhood. Bay Area is one of wealthiest regions in America and epicenter of Big Tech. Yet this is what’s being allowed. Greetings from Los Angeles Homeless crisis is out of control on West Coast. @RJBalpha driving through parts of California this week and documenting. These are truly America’s slums. It looks like a war zone.