Another article about the revolting condition of San Francisco's streets

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In what universe? The last couple of decades, and the last couple of years especially, suggest otherwise.

The most advanced third world country, maybe…



There seems to be something missing from the picture and I can’t quite nail it down. Real estate prices in SF are extremely high leading to homelessness. The high number of homeless causes some unpleasantness in SF which includes trash and poop on he street. Real estate prices in a place covered in trash and human waste continue to rise because the area is considered desirable - which means… homelessness, trash, and human poo don’t drive down the value of real estate.


The real estate is just that desirable and profitable that companies are willing to put up with squalor and human misery. As long as you’re making money who cares what’s going outside the threshold of the building?

But honestly something’s gotta give. There’s just no excuse for what the city, the rich, and corporate interests have done to the bay area. Seemingly no one gives a damn and its all poor people’s fault, not them. Nope not at all.


Doesn’t the city have cleaning crews? I fancy city like SF should have cleaning crews. If you aren’t going to invest in the homeless problem, then at least invest in some cleaning crews.

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Never been to the bay area but i presume it’s a scaling issue. If you have a big density of homeless people that are relieving themselves in public that means to keep everything clean the city would need to dispatch cleaning crews nearly every day, which is something most cities just don’t do.


People talk these days about points at which revolution starts, but you’d hope that there’s alternatively a point at which enough people see this misery in its cold light and call for real reform:

(Riis’s text and photos have problems; I cite HtOHL as an example of a galvanizing work at a time when disparities in living conditions could be similarly extreme.)


Someone should develop an app that will disrupt the process to hire street cleaners.


I think the government is pretty efficient at fucking that up themselves.


It may had gotten worse in the last decade or so, but honestly, San Francisco was always a pretty filthy place. West Coast cities seem to be a lot more comfortable with neglecting their homeless population or perhaps less comfortable with taking the criminalization route like Giuliani, but the foulness of SF is clearly a broader cultural problem. The homeless don’t generate the trash from businesses and homes that I see. The trash cans in front of late-night establishments are absolutely overflowing and people just seem to toss anything on the pile. I clearly have a prejudice, but literally my very first impression of SF was how disgusting it was.

SF natives: Are there any property-owner responsibility laws there? In NYC if your stoop, trash bins or even the (city-owned) sidewalk aren’t spotless you immediately get ticketed and, IIRC, they’re not cheap.


So we’ve gone from calling these people vagrants to homeless to “unsheltered” now?

The value of real estate rises because the supply of housing is either naturally finite due to geography or intentionally finite because the people through their elected officials want it that way. Try proposing a high rise housing development in SF. Count the laughs of the zoning board.


The secret ingredient is tax dollars; which the masters of the internet just won’t abide.


It’s this kind of unthinking arrogance that makes America such a suitable target for haters on the internet. I think the guy quoted in the article is not a bad guy; he wanted to talk about the situation of the poor and didn’t really want to brag about the superiority of his country at the moment. And yet, he did, in a ludicrously counterfactual way.

Is an “advanced” society that has a lot of money? America is doing fine, but will never be able to compete with the likes of Luxembourg or Singapore.
Is it about putting people in space? A respectable second place behind Russia.
The internet? Quite advanced, but I’ve heard good things about Singapore and South Korea.
Cell phones? Don’t make me laugh.
Is it about military power? Congratulations, America.
Is it about economic equality? I don’t remember America even trying to play that game.
I do give America credit for things like the Americans with Disabilities Act, however. That’s one thing where I definitely felt that America was more advanced than my own country by at least 10 years.

It’s not just about the politics of the last couple of decades, it’s the fact that “advanced” is such a vague concept that you just can’t declare an overall winner. Everyone who casually assumes that their own nation is “the most advanced” is engaging in good old-fashioned nationalism of the kind that might have been considered “advanced” in 1850.

But what if there was low-rise affordable housing a little farther away? Apparently, there are other factors contributing to the problem.


I have lived in SF since the mid 1990s. The problem has gotten markedly worse in the last 5 years, as housing costs have gotten absolutely ridiculous, and way more people are openly living on sidewalks and underpasses. The tolerance and temperate climate of SF also plays a role, making it a magnet for northern CA homelessness. Money is there… the city of 850,000 people spends ~$300,000,000 on homelessness and supportive housing. Several new overnight sleeping centers have been set up, one in my neighborhood, but with limited effect, due to rules that break up couples and require people who use them to abandon (or leave unattended) much of what little property they have.

East coast cities have brutal winters which I think does something to force both cities and people who are homeless to work together to address the problem. In the year round relative balminess of the California coast, I think the urgency isn’t there.


RE the overflowing cans: If you leave your trash bins out unlocked for more than about 15-20 minutes in many parts of the city they will be tipped out by the homeless. This happened to me a few times - I’d put the bins out before trash pickup around 630AM and go get coffee, and come back around 645AM to find a giant mess in front of my house - before I started paying more for the privilege of lockable bins.

Yesterday morning two homeless guys on the nod were camped directly in front of my place in Hayes Valley blocking the garage. Not remotely the first time something like this has happened this year.

Not sure what the answer is. SF is clearly swimming in tax revenue, and homeless outreach is a major budget item, so I have to assume the money is being misspent. I lived in NYC in the late 90s and although I am extremely socially liberal I am starting to think we need to adopt some of (pre-super-crazy) Giuliani’s policing policies. I am open to other suggestions, but I am not open to continuing to do nothing and let street sleeping and drug use continue to own the streets in the flat parts of SF. Sharing the city should not mean having to put up with any type of behavior on the streets no matter how dirty or outrageous.


In places like Vegas you typically don’t see homeless people a lot. They’re definitely more spread out and most hide away from the harsh summer and winter weather in hidden structures like drainage pipes and other underground facilities. For Vegas the issue is that it doesn’t rain much but when it really comes down inevitably some of the homeless folk end up drowning and being washed out.

The strip is pretty damn filthy though because of the constant traffic, construction, and some homeless people that work the area by handing out pamphlets for escorts and strip clubs.

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Another article about the revolting condition of San Francisco’s streets

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