Op-Ed: Will It Take A Conservative To Fix SF?

by on December 4, 2023

The Electronic Frontier Foundation back building (right), grey, with 2 garage doors. Dec.3

After being wined and dined during APEC, “fancy foreign leaders” jetted off out of San Francisco.

 And in the town where people always look down (looking out for needles and feces), life is back to normal again.

 Homeless encampments, drug dealers, users, filthy streets, and violence are coming back

Van Ness Avenue and Willow Street. Nov.30

 Neighbors on Van Ness Avenue between Ellis and Eddy Streets and Larch Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street shared with me their CCTV footage of the return of drug dealers and users in their neighborhood post-APEC. 

 On November 25th, there were 2 fatal shootings in the Tenderloin near UC Law SF and an unoccupied van was set on fire in Cathedral Hill (Franklin and Larch Streets). 

 These 2 establishments near where the incidents happened on the same day had something in common.

 Both UC Law SF which was UC Hastings at that time and the apartment building owners on Franklin and Larch Streets sued the City in May and June 2020 respectively to clear out the homeless encampments and the drug activities around their buildings. 

 The City reached agreements with them.

 But chaos involving homelessness and drug dealing is still haunting these 2 establishments until now. 

 And it’s only getting worse. 

 Neighbors on Larch Street between Franklin and Eddy Streets have since installed garden planters in the alley to deter homeless encampments which always come with drug dealing, use, bicycle chop shop, unbearable noises, fights, fires, and violence. 

 I was there when they installed the planters and asked them why all the neighbors on Larch Street installed the planters except one, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

 The neighbors said, “Oh, they are Progressive and they only work here during the day and leave at night. They don’t understand the hellhole we live in here.” 

 So, the planters in the alley indicate where the borderline is between Progressive and Moderate (anti-planters vs. pro-planters).

 Since I learned about that, I have become fascinated with metal garden planters as they rapidly muscle their way throughout the neighborhood and the City.

 The planters have shown me in which direction “the political wind” is blowing in our City. 

 And I have been documenting and writing about them since.

 Neighbors from several neighborhoods in the City (Cathedral Hill, Tenderloin, Castro, SOMA, Mission, and Fisherman Wharf) I had talked to told me that they installed them because they were at their wits’ end with the City’s incompetence in putting a lid on homeless encampments, drug dealing, and crime around their properties and even schools

 They asked me, “When will things get better in our City?”

 According to them, their frustrations with the status quo have caused them to change their political beliefs from left to center-right at least. 

 And I believed what they told me when I saw many of them at the injunction protest in front of the Ninth Circuit Court on August 23rd. 

 They were on the “Save Our Streets” side instead of the “Stop The Sweeps” side. 

 Their political ideology certainly has shifted as their compassion has turned into anger towards the homeless. 

 Most of them tell me that they will never vote for a Republican but they certainly won’t be voting for any Progressive candidate; especially, those who want to go easy on crime. 

 And some of them are ready to vote for conservative candidates. 

 A Progressive friend of mine who lives and works in the Tenderloin has been talking constantly about Nikki Haley, the Republican presidential candidate since she made her debut.

 At first, I thought he was just joking around with me when he asked me to support her. 

 But when I asked if he would vote for Nikki Haley, his response shocked me.

 He said, “If it comes down to Biden vs. Haley, I would vote for Haley this time around.

 We need people who are tougher on homelessness, illegal drug trades, and crime.”

 His political ideology has shifted from left to center-right according to him. 

 He identified himself as an Independent and won’t switch to a Republican but will vote for Nikki Haley whom he labels as a “common sense Moderate Republican.”  

 It’s complicated but the best way to explain this is it’s similar to someone who just “came out of the closet,” 

 She/he is not ready to be labeled as “gay” just yet fearing the stigmas attached to the label.

 Instead, she/he is comfortable being identified as “Bi” or a half-baked Republican in this case. 

 Annie Gaus with SF Standard wrote about a center-right group in the City called the Briones Society whose members are moderate conservative-leaning voters like him who seem to be on the rise now due to our failed City

 Trevor Traina crossed my mind as a would-be choice for San Francisco’s mayoral candidate for center-right voters if he wants to jump into the mayoral race. 

 Mr.Traina is a San Francisco native, investor, entrepreneur, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Austria from 2018 to 2021.

 He flew a rainbow flag at the U.S. Embassy during Vienna Pride in support of the LGBTQ community against a ban from the U.S. State Department to do so. 

Trevor Traina (left) with Governor Gavin Newsom at the late San Francisco’s chief of protocol, Charlotte M. Schultz’s memorial service at Grace Cathedral. March 30, 2022

 Back to the Tenderloin, when I asked my friend the reasons for his political ideology change, he quoted the recent UC Law SF dean’s op-ed in the SF Chronicle on public safety:

 “The most recent violence is just the latest manifestation of the city’s incapacity to keep the Tenderloin clear of open-air drug dealing and the crime and devastation it brings, including countless deaths from fentanyl overdoses. Present circumstances have raised the horror to a new level. The vibrant community of the Tenderloin, like any other city neighborhood, deserves the respect and protection of city leadership.

 Enough is enough.”-David L. Faigman, the chancellor and dean of UC College of the Law San Francisco.

 He said that as a person who lives and works in the heart of the Tenderloin, the out-of-control homeless encampments, the open-air drug markets, and the crime have made him give up hope in the current administration and slowly change his political beliefs. 

 He wants law and order to be implemented in the Tenderloin by the Mayor and law enforcement agencies. 

 The current state of the Tenderloin is not sustainable according to him. 

 He said in an email, “That Dean’s from Law school letter was definitely a hit in the stomach for Mayor Breed. She is not winning the PR war. Jennifer [Jennifer Friedenbach] & homeless coalition are just sitting back laughing & watching their lawsuit make the City squirm. 

 There is no winner here. Property owners are trying to protect their properties, the City is trying to appease voters, homeless are collecting benefits & still living on the street, doing drugs & committing crimes to pay for them.”

 He feels like a prisoner suffocated in his own home and at his workplace and desperately needs someone to liberate him. 

 He has been attacked by drug dealers near his place of work and his apartment has been burglarized several times. 

 He is currently searching for new jobs and a new place to live outside the Tenderloin. 

 He may need to work 2 jobs to be able to afford to move to a better neighborhood than the Tenderloin. 

 San Francisco voters like him are angrier than ever and demand the City get a grip on homelessness, open-air drug markets, crime, and filthy streets. 

Filed under: San Francisco News