The shocking results of a survey shed harsh light on the rampant lawlessness and criminal behavior besieged San Francisco suffers from. Only 3% of restaurants in the city reported they were not vandalized in just the past month.
The Golden State Restaurant Association survey found that 97% of the 74 restaurants responded they were targeted with property crimes or graffiti within 30 days.
Much of the city’s downtown area is now abandoned and boarded up in a trend reminiscent of the darkest days of Detroit. Retailers flee in droves to find secure locations to conduct their business.
City officials have spent $1 million to combat vandalism in the past two years. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that roughly 800 businesses were given grants from $1,000 to $2,000 to repair damage wrought by criminals.
San Francisco’s call center received $10,000 reports of graffiti damage done to property in just the past six months.
And in what may be a first, the San Francisco Police Department now employs an officer full-time just to handle graffiti cases. The brunt of the expense to repair damage, however, is still borne by local establishments.
To add insult to injury, business owners have 30 days to remedy the damage from vandalism or get hit with up to a $500 fine from the city. Hanson Li, who is a partner in three establishments, called operating within the city limits “death by a thousand cuts.”
He cited the breakin last month at his Lazy Susan Chinese restaurant, which came just days after vandals defaced its storefront. That act followed property damage done to a bar his group manages.
Supreme Pizza owner Leandro Jayme told ABC 7 that his location in Mission District was recently targeted in an acid attack. Being acid, the glass could not simply be cleaned but had to be removed.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided during the pandemic to pause removal of graffiti from tagged structures. According to Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, this created a snowball effect.
After over a year of not enforcing graffiti laws, “if we didn’t have that stick with the carrot…sometimes people would just let it sit on their building and then…more tags will come and another and another.”
The city attempted to address the issue last year through a pilot program to remove graffiti in public areas at no charge to small businesses. Requests to clean the vandalism soared 74% with the service, but response times remain painfully slow.