Will Bay Area residents and business owners realize the politicians they voted in are responsible for the staggering crime they are now protesting?
Target just announced it is closing its Bay Area stores. Walgreens has closed at least 11 stores in the city since 2020. CVS closed seven stores since last year, including shutting another store down less than a week ago. Theft cost Target between $700 and $800 million last year. They company predicts it will cost $1.2 billion this year.
Cotopaxi, Nordstrom and Saks Off Fifth, Amazon Go stores, Anthropologie, several other high-end Union Square stores and department stores, and the flagship Whole Foods store closed or are Leaving San Francisco this fall. Higher-end stores have cited break-ins and crime as major reasons for leaving.
Today’s headlines tell the story:
- Target says organized retail theft too much, will shutter 3 Bay Area stores
- Pittsburg tried to bring police substation by Target ahead of closure
- S.F. Target store that’s closing is near chop shops, encampment fires
- Target Announces Three Locations In SF Bay Area Are Closing Because of Rampant Crime
- Here’s how common vandalism is at S.F. restaurants
- These neighborhoods are San Francisco’s car-theft hot spots
- Oakland Businesses Shut Down in Protest Against Rising Crime
- Oakland businesses go on strike over crime
A security consultant and former police officer told the Globe, “The city just keeps refusing to do what is needed to be done. Get more officers, increase the number of prosecutions, and give economic incentives for these businesses to stay. Right now they are just not getting any.”
He gets it.
“More than 200 small business owners in Oakland shut their doors for a couple hours Tuesday to take time to voice their concerns about rising crime in the city,” NBC Bay Area reported Tuesday. “The strike came just days after the city admitted to missing a deadline to apply for millions of state dollars to fight retail theft.”
On former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinnis’s radio show Tuesday, a retired Oakland crime scene investigator called in to discuss the crime, and said former Mayor Libbee Schaff’s policies, including cutting/defunding police was a huge influence in the spiking crime.
In June 2021, the Oakland City Council passed a budget Thursday which cut $18.4 million from the police budget, redirecting the funds to “violence prevention measures” and social services, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Even then, the Mayor had proposed a small increase to the police budget after watching the spike in homicides and violent crime following her police cuts.
“Police staffing has also fallen one officer below a 2014 voter-approved measure that requires the police department to have at least 678 sworn officers on staff,” the AP reported.
This caused Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to push to stop planned cuts to the city’s police department, Newsweek reported Nov. 2021.
“Schaaf said although she still supports the diversion of some funds to social services, in order to curb the increasing violence, she’ll ask the city council to stop the reversal that is supposed to take effect next year, according to The Associated Press.”
Too little, too late.
Demonstrating just how useless, ineffective and incapable of addressing reality they are, the “Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution this week, authorizing nearly $30 million in grant money to be used to provide violence prevention and intervention services to youth for the next two years. District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo said the funding would go to several nonprofits,” KTVU reported.
The new Mayor, Sheng Thao, announced in August that the California Highway Patrol, in collaboration with the Oakland Police Department, will “assist in traffic enforcement along high injury corridors in Oakland. The goal is to target reckless driving, auto theft, sideshows and highway shootings while allowing OPD officers to focus their efforts on solving violent crime.”
They will also be funding “the Department of Violence Prevention” to assist in its “mission to deter crime and disrupt the cycle of violence.”
How about just funding more police on the streets given that police data show Oakland violent crime is up 19% in the 12 months before Aug. 27. Homicide is down 10% over the same period, while total crime is up 28% over the same period. Car theft is up 52%, and theft from vehicles is up 47% over the same period.
San Francisco crime data are just as bad. A 2021 Hoover Institution report by Lee Ohanian found “San Franciscans face about a 1-in-16 chance each year of being a victim of property or violent crime, which makes the city more dangerous than 98 percent of US cities, both small and large. To put this in perspective, Compton, California, the infamous home of drug gang turf wars, and which today remains more dangerous than 90 percent of all US cities, is almost twice as safe as San Francisco.” That was two years ago.
Ohanian says “one important deficiency is too small of a police force.” He also identified “the 800-pound gorilla in the room” – rampant drugs. “There are now many more drug users in the city than high school students.” Ohanian said, “San Francisco politicians have chosen to accept drug use in the city, along with the crime, mental illness, and homelessness that accompany drug abuse.”
“Drug abuse is facilitated by providing clean needles for addicts, which results in used hypodermic needles being disposed of everywhere, and by tacitly allowing several neighborhoods to become de facto open-air drug markets. And drug users and drug sellers have flocked to San Francisco, largely because they know that their trade is acceptable.”
We Californians take arrows daily for living in this failing state and voting for the dysfunctional, corrupt and incompetent politicians we end up with. It’s tempting to ask “who votes for the Bay Area politicians?” But also remember that most people vote for the lesser of two evils – i.e. our choices of politician usually aren’t real choices. And normal people typically don’t run for public office only to have their personal lives destroyed if they aren’t backed by big labor.
So yes, voters can hold their politicians accountable – especially locally. But it will be ugly and very uncomfortable until real change is realized.
How bad does it have to get in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Redding, and other California hellscapes before the people take back their cities?230828_Citywide Weekly Crime Report 21Aug23 - 27Aug23
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