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The Chaotic Streets of San Francisco

November 1, 2022
Tracy McCray - SFPOA President

We have all seen the viral videos and news reports, both local and national, heck even international, about the state of the streets in San Francisco. The streets downtown are in chaos. It’s not just the usual Tenderloin streets that we all know so well, but the surrounding streets of Mission, Howard, Folsom, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th streets, and where the Linkage Center sits at UN Plaza where chaos is on full display.

So what will it take to make the city change course to return the streets back to some sense of normalcy? Is that just a pipe dream that’s going up in smoke? How low can we go? When is rock bottom? How much money, hours and man power can we throw at the problem until we can solve it? I guess the answer to that is do the people in power really believe we have a problem or any problems that are meaningful to the citizens that they care to fix? Or do they keep gaslighting all of us in to believing that the problem really isn’t that bad, it’s just being exploited by all those right wingers who don’t know what they are talking about and are racist! How dare they not feel any sympathy for the person in the tent who needs that harm reduction package so they can do their drug of choice so they can handle the hard life that the man has given them. What a load of crap that is. People have free will to make choices and not all of them are good ones.

It would seem that some of them like the chaos. Why solve a drug problem when the people who support them would be out of job if we actually solved the issue or managed to get some control over it. Think about it. Those billions of dollars that have been poured into trying to solve this and other quality of life issues would be cut in half — or even less then that. The people running these operations would lose their minds. All the money the city is spending to buy land and buildings to house people, people who have consistently stated they don’t want to be housed. They want to be free to do what they want to do, with no rules attached. That world does not exist, so they continue to run amok on the streets and the chaos you see in those viral videos will be playing on a non-stop loop. The people in charge have passed policies and legislation that have made the situation worse.
For instance, 24th and Mission, the place where a thriving stolen goods pop-up market is or was flourishing. In the not so distant past, the police were able to go in and cite people for peddling without a permit, along with some other quality of life issues we could enforce. But the tools to do the enforcement were taken away and police were told that if we enforce the law we are being biased towards a particular group of people and that is racist. I don’t know what they thought was going to happen, but it has become a paradise to peddle stolen goods at will thanks to Prop 47. So now the problem has gotten out of control, and instead of allowing us to do our job they send in the Department of Public Works to make nice. Well let’s see what is going to happen when DPW tries to take enforcement actions and when they tell people they are confiscating their goods if they don’t have a permit. Also, if the vendor can’t show proof of purchase for what they are trying to peddle. Good luck with that!

People seem to forget that we have rules, laws and policies we have to follow in order to be effective at doing our job. So the things we need to do our job need to be sensible and not bogged down in politics. I don’t think that is asking too much; to not have to follow asinine policies that make the job more confusing and difficult. Unless that is the goal of the people who are making these policies. That must be the reform they are talking about. Maybe they want to keep the chaos going. Maybe they like fighting with each other so no one really focuses on the problems plaguing the streets, where people are dying because fentanyl is so prevalent because drug dealers are seen as victims instead of the criminals they are, selling a potent and deadly drug, while making a lot of money. The chaos wheel keeps spinning endlessly because the people in power might want it that way.