A store-closing banner hangs over the entrance to the Coco Republic store near Union Square in San Francisco on June 21, 2023.

Photo: Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Are the people of San Francisco finally ready to reject the progressive policies destroying one of the world’s most beautiful cities? Hope springs eternal, and there’s a compelling new call for reform. George Kelly writes in the San Francisco Standard:

The owner of Gump’s, one of San Francisco’s most storied department stores, issued a scathing rebuke to city leaders this weekend over business and street conditions Downtown.

John Chachas, who acquired Gump’s following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, paid for ad space in the print edition of Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle to run an open letter decrying the state of the city’s Downtown, and what he sees as dereliction of leadership from Mayor

London Breed
and the city’s Board of Supervisors, as well as California Gov.

Gavin Newsom.

Mr. Chachas wrote:

San Francisco now suffers from a “tyranny of the minority” —behavior and actions of the few that jeopardize the livelihood of the many. The ramifications of COVID policies advising people to abandon their offices are only beginning to be understood. Equally devastating have been a litany of destructive San Francisco strategies, including allowing the homeless to occupy our sidewalks, to openly distribute and use illegal drugs, to harass the public and to defile the city’s streets. Such abject disregard for civilized conduct makes San Francisco unlivable for its residents, unsafe for our employees, and unwelcoming to visitors from around the world.

This kind of straight talk might have gotten someone cancelled a few years back, but Mr. Kelly of the Standard has encouraging news on this week’s public reaction:

On Sunday, Chachas told The Standard he has received nothing but support through the comment section on Gump’s website.

“No one’s told me, ‘Oh my, how uncaring you are toward the homeless,’” he said. “I received multiple responses saying ‘truth to power,’ ‘You’re saying exactly what everybody believes.’ It’s just that no one listens.”…

“I’m hoping that what this galvanizes is a real conversation to change what San Francisco’s doing,” said Chachas, who said he believes that city and state leaders act “like there’s something humanitarian and evolved in their permission of that kind of behavior. There’s nothing evolved.”

This is well stated, and isn’t it nice that he’s willing to state it? Erica Sandberg writes in City Journal:

Did you feel that? It wasn’t an earthquake; it was the sound of hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans standing up and clapping.

San Francisco has entered the post-fear era. Where once it was taboo to discuss the so-called homeless situation without first carefully qualifying one’s speech with assurances of compassion, today people bluntly call it what it is. San Francisco has a serious drug, crime, and “let people do whatever they want” problem. Chachas’s letter resonated with the rapidly growing number of city advocates who are no longer willing to sit back and hope for circumstances to improve.

Next year, the city will hold a municipal election. Mayor London Breed will likely find it a struggle to remain in office, and as many as half of the Board of Supervisors may be replaced. Supervisor Dean Preston, a wealthy democratic socialist, is particularly vulnerable, with a Dump Dean movement gaining momentum. Viable challengers cut from an entirely different cloth politically are emerging.

San Franciscans are getting louder and making demands: restore law and order, support retailers, bring back workers, make the city appealing to families, tourists, and innovators. It’s not complicated or costly. Change the policies that have created the mess.

Meanwhile in nearby Oakland, Katie Nielsen reports for
station KPIX on an effort to clean up a similar mess:

The effort to oust Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price moved forward Tuesday afternoon as an organization filed the intent to recall paperwork and the needed signatures to officially begin the process…

Seven months into her tenure, Price has already become a lightning rod in the heated conversation about criminal justice reform and public safety. She ran on a platform emphasizing restorative justice policies including reducing sentences for younger offenders, eliminating most sentencing enhancements and holding law enforcement accountable.

“Anytime that we can divert someone from the criminal justice system, that is a goal, because the criminal justice system has been shown to be racially biased,” said Ms. Price in a recent interview with KPIX. “The DA’s role has really no impact on crime. To create a safe community, we need to invest in alternatives to incarceration,” she added.

Why would someone even want to serve as a district attorney if she believes that the job has no impact on crime—unless she has another agenda in mind?

Last month Cynthia Adams of the Oakland branch of the NAACP and Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church wrote:

Oakland residents are sick and tired of our intolerable public safety crisis that overwhelmingly impacts minority communities… African Americans are disproportionately hit the hardest by crime in East Oakland and other parts of the city. But residents from all parts of the city report that they do not feel safe. Women are targeted by young mobs and viciously beaten and robbed in downtown and uptown neighborhoods. Asians are assaulted in Chinatown. Street vendors are robbed in Fruitvale. News crews have their cameras stolen while they report on crime.

workers are robbed and now require private security when they are out working. Everyone is in danger.

Failed leadership, including the movement to defund the police, our District Attorney’s unwillingness to charge and prosecute people who murder and commit life threatening serious crimes, and the proliferation of anti-police rhetoric have created a heyday for Oakland criminals. If there are no consequences for committing crime in Oakland, crime will continue to soar…

We urge African Americans to speak out and demand improved public safety. We also encourage Oakland’s White, Asian, and Latino communities to speak out against crime and stop allowing themselves to be shamed into silence.

There is nothing compassionate or progressive about allowing criminal behavior to fester and rob Oakland residents of their basic rights to public safety. It is not racist or unkind to want to be safe from crime. No one should live in fear in our city.

Kudos to the burgeoning group of Bay Area reformers who have moved into a post-fear era of public debate.

This seems to be a winning strategy for urban renewal and for so many other problems in life: Be not afraid.


James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival” and also the co-author of “Borrowed Time: Two Centuries of Booms, Busts and Bailouts at Citi.”


Follow James Freeman on Twitter.

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(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Stuart Creque.)