Friday, May 24, 2024

What everyone seems to forget is that San Francisco is so much more than the viral videos of the South of Market tent encampments. Yes, those exist. But they’re just one facet of the city.

The most obvious answer is that things are actually going wrong. San Francisco faces multiple overlapping problems: Work-from-home policies emptied out the office buildings downtown, there’s a fentanyl crisis, and homeless services are grossly inadequate — the shelter system runs more than 4,000 beds short, for example.

San Francisco is facing multiple overlapping problems: Work-from-home policies emptied out the office buildings downtown, there’s a fentanyl crisis, and homeless services are grossly inadequate.

But many American cities are dealing with similar challenges. In Los Angeles, where I live, the proportion of homeless people who are unsheltered is significantly higher than that of San Francisco. It gets practically no attention.

Why does San Francisco attract all this vitriol, which is so disproportionate to the conditions on the ground? I think it’s because San Francisco holds a special place in American media and politics — everything that happens there is magnified. It’s a symbol as much as a city.

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