In recent years, San Francisco, once praised as a vibrant retail hub, has witnessed a steady stream of residents, retail stores and companies packing up and leaving the city. Experts say the reasons why should alarm all Californians as fatally-flawed policies that led to San Francisco’s decline are actually now being implemented in cities across the state.
A recent study from The San Francisco Standard shows that from 2019 to May 2023, San Francisco witnessed a sharp decline in its retail landscape. In Union Square alone, the number of operating stores decreased from 207 to a mere 107 and now has a shocking 47% vacancy rate.
In addition to the shocking data on retail closures, San Francisco is also grappling with an unprecedented office vacancy crisis. The San Francisco Chronicle states that there are approximately 18.4 square feet of empty office space - representing one of the most severe vacancies ever recorded in the city.
When asked about the mass exodus recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom — a former mayor of San Francisco himself — chalked it up to mere “macroeconomic” forces and the lingering impacts of the “pandemic.”
Experts say Newsom is either woefully ill-informed or being dishonest.
“The overwhelming facts prove businesses and residents are fleeing San Francisco due to the crime wave and a spike in homelessness,” says Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Reform California. “And you can blame the liberal politicians in San Francisco for enacting fatally-flawed laws that enable crime and promote homelessness,” DeMaio notes.
San Francisco’s crime and homeless rates are higher than most national and state averages, which DeMaio says is a result of these failed policies. According to the FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement, in 2019, the city’s violent crime rate was 76.49% higher than the national average and the property crime rate was 160.94% the national average. As for homelessness, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that the Bay Area’ homeless population has increased 35% since 2019.
"Moreover, San Francisco has always been expensive so you can’t say that is behind the recent exodus, but it certainly doesn’t help keep people in the city when they ask the common-sense question ‘why are we paying more to be victims of crime and be exposed to so much filth," DeMaio notes.
“San Francisco’s high cost of operating and theft makes it harder to even reach break-even as stores are getting ransacked by criminals and burglars on a daily basis,” DeMaio explains.
The escalating levels of crime and drug use in San Francisco have forced various retail chains, including Target, Walgreens, and Nordstrom, to make the shocking decision to close many of their stores. The rampant criminal activity and pervasive drug issues have created an unsafe environment that not only endangers employees and customers but also hampers the profitability and sustainability of these businesses.
Retail Stores that Closed in San Francisco:
Companies Moving Out of San Francisco:
And to the already concerning statistics, one of San Francisco’s largest hotel, Hilton San Francisco occupies an entire city block and is now being abandoned, further highlighting the deteriorating state of the city’s commercial landscape.
“Instead of fixing the problems, politicians are waving goodbye to businesses and continuing failed policies,” says Carl DeMaio.
DeMaio warns that it will continue to worsen, as politicians are not willing to prioritize the pressing issue at hand and implement effective comprehensive and long-term strategies for controlling and mitigating homelessness and crime in San Francisco.
“We see many of the failed policies in San Francisco now being implemented in cities across the state as liberal politicians take control in more regions,” DeMaio warns.
“We need to warn voters what will happen if they allow their city to embrace the same policies that led to San Francisco’s decline,” DeMaio says.
That’s why Reform California is leading a campaign to address the issue – by flipping key seats and supporting politicians who are dedicated to revitalizing the city, in order to restore the economic vibrancy and prosperity that San Francisco once enjoyed.
“If we can educate voters and open their eyes to the lost jobs that all these businesses who are fleeing are taking with them, we believe it will have a profound impact on their voting and will help us defeat these liberal politicians in the 2024 election cycle,” DeMaio says.
“To do that we need more support for this campaign to run ads and reach voters, so I’m urging all Californians who want real change to chip in a contribution today,” DeMaio concludes.