July 27, 2002

Story on Frisco Tourism Slu...

Story on Frisco Tourism Slump Fails to Mention Filth: Here's a front-page story from the Los Angeles Times this morning. It's about how San Francisco is suffering a staggering drop in tourism, much worse than cities like San Diego, San Diego, which has already climbed back to near pre-Sept. 11 levels. There are many explanations offered, but not once in 1,750 words does the writer or a single source mention one obvious possible factor: The City is covered in horrendous filth. If I had a child, just about the last place in North America I would consider visiting is the formerly touristic Market Street, which has basically become an open-air sewer. I can't believe this doesn't have at least a slight impact on tourism.

Posted by at July 27, 2002 08:27 PM
Comments

Amen!

Market and many other areas of a truly beautiful city are marred by the smell and sight of urine and other bodily substances.

It's the great shame of the city, and I've unfortunately lost the link (and maybe you were even the one who posted it) about the City losing lots of money from the people within the area who no longer come out to dinner or to the opera or other shows because of how disgusting parts of the city have become.

Posted by: Jason at July 28, 2002 10:27 AM

Not to rag on Matt and Jason - but what is with the capitalized "City"? That had to be one of the most pretentious affection of the SF Examiner - that all instances of the word-pair "the city" that referred to San Fransciso were Capitalized: "The City". Even in letters to the editor where you could be fairly sure the writer just wrote "when I drove to the city yesterday", not "when I drove to The City yesterday."

E.g., see http://www.examiner.com/news/default.jsp?story=n.portsmouth.0726w

Posted by: David Bakin at July 28, 2002 02:26 PM

David -- Since I use "Frisco" every chance I get, I thought I'd throw the diehards a bone while ragging on their, uh, city.

Posted by: Matt Welch at July 28, 2002 02:45 PM

Just out of curiosity, does "The City" refer to San Francisco, or some specific part of it, like a downtown? We have "Center City" in Philadelphia, for example, and "Olde City". Other cities have a "Downtown" or an "Uptown" (rather than downtown or uptown as a direction), and so on. Is "The City" the same kind of thing, or is it really as pretentious as David Suggests?

Posted by: Chris Seamans at July 28, 2002 06:31 PM

I was in San Francisco for a week back in February, on a business trip. My hotel was on Geary St., only a coule of blocks away from Market. What really turned me off about the place wasn't the filth, though there definitely was some of that, but the hobos. They're literally on every street corner, liquor bottle in hand, looking for a handout. And to think, this was actually one of the more upscale parts of the city. They've even become quite shameless when it comes to the way in which they ask for handouts - a couple had signs that read "Why lie. It's for beer". It'd be kind of funny, if it wasn't so sad.

In New York, Giulani and co. did a pretty good job of getting such people off the streets during the '90s. I suppose San Francisco considers itself too soft-hearted to do such a thing, never mind that many of these people are mentally disabled, and many more need psychiatric help. Well, you reap what you sow.

Posted by: Eric at July 28, 2002 06:37 PM

Chris -- Yep, "The City" is San Francisco, though just about every neighborhood larger than a city block has its own name and strange history (one of the many charming things about the place). I'm guessing blindly that the term got legs because of the context of the Bay Area -- millions of people, living in scores of cities, yet with only one anchor "city" that looks real fancy and takes a stab at culture, even though its population is comparatively small. Would love to hear some of you Frisco readers clue us in on the history....

Posted by: Matt Welch at July 28, 2002 07:33 PM

Soft-hearted, soft-headed, whatever. Willie Brown doesn't have a clue what to do with the homeless or with much of anything else.

Yeah, I was thinking it was the beggars that are the worst. I haven't been to the City (yep. Cap-C) since Bay to Breakers in May.

Posted by: Jan Yarnot at July 28, 2002 09:00 PM

I am sure that all the anti-American spew and anti-Israeli violence hasn't helped either. Note that they are missing tourists from the Mid-West, blue country...

Posted by: Ann Ellwood at July 28, 2002 09:38 PM

Ann -- I wonder ... I have no earthly idea if politics played a factor, but it sure would have been a helluva question to *ask*.

From my personal experience (and speaking as a liberal), I can tell you that my visit to Europe over last Christmas was the first time ever, in going back and forth for 12 years, that I was not eager to return soon. Most of that feeling was based on politics -- I was weary of listening to European residents (including Americans) tell me that George Bush was "no different" than Osama Bin Laden.

It seems no great leap to imagine that same thing happening to Frisco -- people surely could count on The City pushing a lot of politics in their faces, and maybe they didn't want to hear it. (The positive numbers for San Diego -- a military town -- would suggest such an interpretation.) But I dunno, politics seems a real minor influence on deciding where to travel.

Posted by: Matt Welch at July 28, 2002 10:32 PM

I live in the Bay Area, but not in The City. Note the use of capitalization. Everyone from around here knows exactly why you mean with that phrase. The City means the entire city of San Francisco. The Bay Area is a little more ambiguous. I'm not exactly sure what is the limit to the Bay Area. Hell, maybe I'm not in the Bay Area?

The "homeless" (we don't call drunks asking for handouts "hobos") have definately become worse in the last few years. Activists (usually Berkeley students taking easy classes so they have plenty of free time to be a pain in the ass) decided telling bums to go somewhere else was wrong. They decided the bums somehow had a "right" to panhandle. They made it virtually impossible for the police to deal with the problem. Whenever the police started a crackdown, the activists would come out of the wood work like cockroaches.

They ruined The City. I wish they would go back to that shithole Berkeley and leave San Francisco alone (actually, it's not just Berkeley students, there's plenty of clueless activists in The City, too).

Posted by: Rossz at July 29, 2002 12:39 AM

San Francisco most-definitely has politcal paralysis dealing with the homeless issue, which causes much of the "filth" that puts people off. It will probably have to get even worse before the homeless lobby admits that the current state of affairs benefits nobody, including those living on the streets.

P.S. To all the vistors who come to SF and think the entire city is filthy: Be adventurouss. Take a trip away from tourist-central to some of the neighborhoods where most San Franciscans live. Most are considerably cleaner than downtown, and seeing them might give you a more rounded picture of the city (and, no, I'm not just talking about the Marina district).

Posted by: Scott Breffle at July 29, 2002 08:05 AM

Maybe the Market Street vendors should pay the homeless to relocate? Berkeley seems like a good spot. Maybe the campus itself? Moving the homeless is not a new concept. It happpens every time there's a Republican or Democratic national convention. At least this way everyone gets something out of it.

Posted by: James at July 29, 2002 08:20 AM

Scott: Perhaps it's worth going to parts of SF where "most San Franciscans live," but you have to admit that there are tourist places that have appeal for a reason. How about the shopping district around Union Square and Powell and Market? How about the area around the new public library and City Hall? And as seldom as I go to Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf areas, they're fun to visit sometimes. San Francisco is utterly disgusting. When I moved to the Bay Area in 1988 from San Diego, I thought San Francisco must be one of the cleanest large, densely populated cities in the country. Now, it's a dive that I try to avoid.

As for the caplitalized City name, is it any different from saying "The Valley" when you mean San Fernando Valley (or Silicon Valley)? And as Matt says, SF impressions are important, but I believe some of the earlier comments are a little static as to the real dynamic problems.

San Francisco since inception has had the most do-nothing, pocket lined city government in America. The problem isn't with the people of SF, but with our long-lasting, knuckleheaded government. MOST (yes, I said most) of us are completely sick and tired of the homeless situation in this city AND have been trying to do something about it. There is an intiative of citizens right now that are trying to put together a project that models what Giuliani and Co. did in Time Square in the mid-Market area (incidentally this group has a number of relocated New Yorkers). I'm dubious as to seeing it's fruition because no matter how grand and wonderful the plans could be, they would never get past the steps (and stains) of City Hall.

As for San Franciscians having "soft hearts," as someone who lives in the heart of "the City," I'm for starting a "revolution" against America's worst and most corrupt government. Then we can have our NATURALLY beautiful city back. Unless the government is radically changed, we will literally be wallowing in feces and urine. At the very least the scatologists could benefit from it...

Posted by: Doug Heinz at July 29, 2002 09:40 PM

Doug:

I'd like to contribute manpower or money to your cause. I've written letters to CIty Hall, to no avail.

I'll send you e-mail.

Posted by: Peggy at July 29, 2002 09:58 PM

"Feces-covered Judd Nelson"? Beato, you're destroying me. Hope all is well with you.

Posted by: Matt Welch at July 30, 2002 12:15 AM

Come on, you guys, it's now illegal to poop and pee on the streets! They passed a law and everything!

As for the politics, everybody knows SF is a predominantly left leaning area. Big deal. That hasn't bothered anyone, until September 11, when the anti-Americanism of some of the previously charming eccentrics became less tolerable. The loud posturing of people like Katha Pollitt struck many people, from all over the political spectrum, as tasteless and wrong. It isn't a political response, it's an anti-idiotarian one.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at July 30, 2002 11:22 AM
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ernment in America. The problem isn't with the people of SF, but with our long-lasting, knuckleheaded government. MOST (yes, I said most) of us are completely sick and tired of the homeless situation in this city AND have been trying to do something about it. There is an intiative of citizens right now that are trying to put together a project that models what Giuliani and Co. did in Time Square in the mid-Market area (incidentally this group has a number of relocated New Yorkers). I'm dubious as to seeing it's fruition because no matter how grand and wonderful the plans could be, they would never get past the steps (and stains) of City Hall.

As for San Franciscians having "soft hearts," as someone who lives in the heart of "the City," I'm for starting a "revolution" against America's worst and most corrupt government. Then we can have our NATURALLY beautiful city back. Unless the government is radically changed, we will literally be wallowing in feces and urine. At the very least the scatologists could benefit from it...

Posted by: Doug Heinz at July 29, 2002 09:40 PM

Doug:

I'd like to contribute manpower or money to your cause. I've written letters to CIty Hall, to no avail.

I'll send you e-mail.

Posted by: Peggy at July 29, 2002 09:58 PM

"Feces-covered Judd Nelson"? Beato, you're destroying me. Hope all is well with you.

Posted by: Matt Welch at July 30, 2002 12:15 AM

Come on, you guys, it's now illegal to poop and pee on the streets! They passed a law and everything!

As for the politics, everybody knows SF is a predominantly left leaning area. Big deal. That hasn't bothered anyone, until September 11, when the anti-Americanism of some of the previously charming eccentrics became less tolerable. The loud posturing of people like Katha Pollitt struck many people, from all over the political spectrum, as tasteless and wrong. It isn't a political response, it's an anti-idiotarian one.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at July 30, 2002 11:22 AM
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