If you're a San Franciscan of long enough standing, it’s déjà vu all over again.

Update: Daniel Lurie abruptly steps away from organization he described as longterm movement. See end.

Listen: San Francisco has come unstuck in time.

“Everything comes back. What was hip and cool in 2002?” asks Jim Ross. Then he answers. “I remember the big album. I was just looking at it here. It was Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi.” 

But Ross didn’t have much time to listen to Sk8er Boi in ’02. He was occupied running Supervisor Gavin Newsom’s Care Not Cash ballot campaign which, magically, springboarded into Newsom’s subsequent mayoral campaign. 

There is, in this town, always a beachhead established with a campaign questioning how much compassion toward the homeless is prudent — followed by the invasion of an individual campaign for higher office. 

All this happened, more or less. 

San Francisco is an ephemeral city, but it’s also a jarringly cyclical one. You just have to stick around long enough to notice this. Or read. Reading is always good. 

As such, in 2002, a handful of San Francisco business barons and veteran politicos founded SFSOS (née Citizens for a Great San Francisco), with the stated mission of addressing this city’s rampant homelessness and filth — and the less-stated goals of redirecting that filth at city progressives who, inconveniently, kept winning district elections. 

SFSOS has long since settled into its role as one of the larger chunks in San Francisco’s political septic tank. Like restaurants, failure is the natural and expected outcome for top-heavy political outfits initiated by well-heeled establishment players. But people, bless them, keep opening restaurants, and well-heeled establishment players keep initiating political movement campaigns. 

To wit, Facebook users last week were bombarded with ads reading “NO TENT ENCAMPMENTS. IN GOLDEN GATE PARK.” 

And this was a jarring statement. San Francisco is a city awash in tents and tent encampments — but not in Golden Gate Park. Is this a belated reaction to the encampments established in 1906? Or is it a proactive attack against currently nonexistent proposed future safe sleeping sites? 

Listen: Perhaps San Francisco has come unstuck in time. 

Ads of this sort caught people’s attention. And made some people angry.

These ads were the opening gambit of “San Francisco that Works for Everyone,” a 501(c)(4) nonprofit launched by wealthy philanthropist Daniel Lurie

And that, too, was jarring. Lurie, you may recall, is the erstwhile CEO of Tipping Point, which raised some $260 million to combat homelessness. He has a solid reputation — and Tipping Point’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative is still very much unfinished business — so it was not intuitive for him to now disseminate lurid ads featuring sidewalk tents. 

Tipping Point, which provides large grants and management assistance to nonprofits, picked up a reputation for effectiveness in part because it harnesses an evidence-based theory of change — it can tell you what solutions work, and why, and exactly what your money will be doing.  

That’s not happening with “San Francisco that Works for Everyone.” Sources knowledgeable with Tipping Point and Lurie’s M.O. who perused this new website at your humble narrator’s behest were shocked Lurie would be soliciting funds for such an opaque and inchoate cause.  

Lurie’s site, as it stands, is not brimming with solutions. Instead we get slogans and anodyne statements (“We believe in caring for the homeless without turning our streets and parks over to homeless encampments.”) and political messages of the sort that appeal to people riled up by images of tents and filth (“We embrace proven solutions like requiring those who are a danger to themselves and others to get treatment instead of indulging in ill-conceived polices [sic] like providing free drugs and alcohol.”).

“It reads like a political campaign,” sums up Ross. “Because it is one. You know, the question is: We don’t know what it’s a campaign for.” 

Lurie did not respond to our requests for an interview. So that’s not a question we could ask him or his major donor Brandon Shorenstein. 

Both Lurie and Shorenstein are scions of wealthy and politically powerful San Francisco families. And the names of the people we do know involved with this nascent effort also have deep and consequential ties to the city’s extant power structure — the people who piloted San Francisco into the place it is. Those would be, so far: political consultants Eric Jaye and Jack Davis; civil rights leader and erstwhile supervisor the Rev. Amos Brown, and spokesman Nathan Ballard, who used to do that job for Mayor Newsom. 

Ballard tells me some 4,000 people joined the group just last week, — and that it’s wrong to think of this effort in a short-term manner based on whatever’s on the ballot come November. 

“This is not a flash-in-the-pan IE [independent expenditure] for one ballot measure,” he says. “It is a 501(c)(4) designed to passionately and forcefully unite the city in advocating for the top issues most San Franciscans care about.” 

He denies it’s exploitative to feature ads with homeless people’s tents. “Tents are emblematic of our failures as a city and a society to protect these most vulnerable people … it’s a mistake to confuse the reality of people suffering on the streets with division.”

The overall goal here, Ballard stresses, is “to be additive.” 

The organization’s incorporation papers are not yet up on the Secretary of State’s website. But, we’re told, they’re a one-page affair carrying the signature of the very same lawyer some of the aforementioned consultants tasked with creating “Mission For All.” That was an ersatz grassroots organization heavily funded by the developer Maximus to promote the construction of its 1979 Mission Street project — the so-called “Monster in the Mission.”  

That project, you’ll likely have noticed, remains decidedly unbuilt. City Hall observers emphasized that — and also emphasized these connections. San Francisco that Works for Everyone “is just Mission For All on steroids,” said one, dismissively. 

We’ll have to wait and see how true or false that is.

This city, meanwhile, has generated no shortage of data regarding effective (or ineffective) solutions to homelessness since the days of SFSOS. None of that is on display on San Francisco that Works for Everyone. We are assured that such scholarship is coming, though. That’s welcome news. Again, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Speaking of waiting and seeing, is Daniel Lurie gonna run for office? This subject has come up before —  And, as in the past, his spokesman, Ballard, says Lurie has no plans to do so.

But plans change. And even if Lurie’s current effort is indeed a far-reaching attempt to build a movement — that doesn’t preclude shorter-term byproducts. 

Perhaps as soon as November. 

Mission For All t-shirt at City Hall rally, 2018. Photo by Julian Mark.

“Tax increases may be necessary in the future, but not before we’ve taken a hard look at current spending,” reads San Francisco that Works for Everyone’s website, “starting with the requirement that every city department be audited regularly.”

That’s kinda funny, because one of the more lasting legacies of SFSOS, Prop. C of 2003, established the city services auditor in the controller’s office — and mandated a set-aside for it that, this year, will come out to some $27 million. 

San Francisco’s budget is maniacally large and there is, no doubt, some degree of sloth and nefariousness going on. But the claim that we simply don’t know where the money is going is overblown; it’s a cynical and tried-and-true method to confuse and enrage rubes about taxes — taxes that, by and large, are aimed at the very wealthiest among us. 

San Francisco, after all, is an ephemeral city, but it’s also a jarringly cyclical one

As such, we do have several tax measures on the ballot this year. They include: a consensus gross receipts tax;  a tax on companies with high-earning CEOs; and a beefed-up real-estate transfer tax on properties of at least $10 million. 

You probably would not pay any of these taxes. But people in the strata of the Luries and Shorensteins and their peers and donors very well could. And, since San Francisco that Works for Everyone is a 501(c)(4), donors need not be revealed if they don’t wish to be. 

All of these tax measures are facing only the most token of opposition — at the present. So, it wouldn’t be surprising for real-estate interests, say, to surreptitiously fund San Francisco that Works for Everyone if it helps to gird voters against annoying left-leaning candidates and/or foster an anti-tax mindset in November. (Just as it wouldn’t be surprising for proponents of the transfer tax to note that 555 California St., once a Shorenstein property and now co-owned by the Trump Organization, is on the block — meaning city voters could literally stick it to Donald John President.

And yet, are the complaints San Francisco that Works for Everyone makes about this city’s status quo out of place? Not at all: All of these concerns, while surface-level at the moment, have some degree of validity.  

The problem is, until proven otherwise, cyclical efforts like this one are part of the city’s status quo as well. 

So it goes.

Update, Sept. 8: Daniel Lurie on Monday at 5:49 p.m. sent out a terse e-mail announcing he had cut ties with San Francisco that Works for Everyone, the organization he announced the formation of only last month. His email is printed in its entirety below.


As close friends and trusted colleagues who have supported my efforts over the past few weeks, I wanted to share that today I am stepping down from my role leading the newly formed organization San Francisco That Works For Everyone.

I have worked diligently over the past few months to launch an effort that activates San Franciscans to demand transparency in city government and force city leaders to generate proven solutions to homelessness, improve access to health care, educate our kids and keep our neighborhoods safe for all.

While I remain committed to that vision and continue to support its mission, in my experience leadership by committee does not allow for bold decisions to be made in real time. I believe in decisive action to address the severe challenges facing our City and wish the organization ongoing success in its efforts.

Thank you all for your commitment to building a San Francisco we can be proud to call home, I look forward to our continued work together.

All my best,


We are told that this is the crucial portion: “…in my experience leadership by committee does not allow for bold decisions to be made in real time. I believe in decisive action to address the severe challenges facing our City …”

In essence, we are told, this equates to Lurie being unable to unilaterally push the organization regarding strategy and content — and departing. Specifically, Mission Local is told that Lurie was pushing to remove from the site this video from the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, which he worried is racist. He was rebuffed.

“We heard his concerns, and we showed the video to The Rev. Amos Brown, who is the head of the NAACP in San Francisco,” said Eric Jaye, a consultant for San Francisco that Works for Everyone who also helped to organize the group. “And Rev. Brown said he thought the video was a fair and powerful description of the situation now in San Francisco and should not be removed.”

Mission Local was unable to reach Lurie, and his spokesman Nathan Ballard — who has also decamped from San Francisco that Works for Everyone — referred us back to Lurie’s Monday letter when asked for details.

Brown is now the chairman of the organization, which is still looking to fill out its board. Some 5,000 members have now joined.

When asked his goals, Brown replied “We will bring strength, sanity, and substance to San Francisco, in an enlightened, engaging, encouraging, engaging, excellent way.”

Support Mission Local.


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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. Joe, thank you very much for this exposé. It is so important that San Franciscans be aware of the toxic political ecosystem that these astroturfing groups promote. You know you’re doing well when you get this kind of pushback.

    Thank you for speaking truth to power.

  2. Joe,

    Long time reader, first time writer, native to the city by the bay. Thanks for covering all of this and being so responsive in the comments. I get your daily texts and it always give me a good shot in the arm…

    On the topic of the article, in order for our city to make any real progress the state is also going to need to get real about treatment options for the mentally ill and drug addicted that are effective and long term, both of which are incredibly expensive. Until then, I feel like the city will ultimately continue its sideshow of smoke and spinning wheels (though not to discount the efforts and compassion of so many people who all care in their own ways).

    I love San Francisco and hope you do too.


  3. When I went to the website of SF Works for Everyone (https://sfworksforeveryone.com/about/), I couldn’t find out who are the people of the organization. Board, executive and officers or staff. For a reasonably sharp website, this is a glaring red flag. It speaks of lack of candor at least. My BS detector went off when I found out this information.

    As for the growth of city government, the mayors of SF have been favorable or very favorable to large , well financed interests of corporations, very wealthy individuals and trade organizations. And that’s been since 1988. These mayors have expanded the size of city government. While some of this may have been relevant and necessary, some has not. When we look at size and corruption of city government, we must start with political appointments, those who appoint them and the power interests that back both.

    Thank you, Joe for shedding light on this effort.

  4. **

    St. Louis is also what was called a, ‘Charter City’ also along with Baltimore.

    One thing that happened because of that was that Governor Gamble changed
    the payout to the St. Louis Police Department to the Governor’s Office instead
    of the St. Louis Mayor’s.

    That kept Missouri in the Union.

    Just an observation from a guy who grew up playing in Lafayette Park where
    Southern and Northern Sympathizers met where love overcame politics.


  5. I’m loathe to support more revenue measures until the corruption holes being revealed by the FBI and US Attorney have been plugged. There are no ballot measures to make it so that the Mayor can’t just ignore a law as in hotels for homeless people. There are no ballot measures for structural reform to begin to engineer city processes to be anti-corruption by design

    I’m all for taxing the rich. But I’m not for feeding the corrupt patronage network that also led us to this point.

  6. The combined city & county argument doesn’t hold water. Let’s compare SF to Philadelphia, a combined city & county. Philly’s population is 5,717,000. Their area is 141.7 square miles. Their budger is $4.377 billion. A WalletHub survey of the largest 100 US cities ranked San Francisco as the second from the last worst run city. Only Washington, DC, is worst run(.https://wallethub.com/edu/best-run-cities/22869/) Decades of one-party rule hasn’t worked. Hopefully, SF Works for Everyone will eventually bring the much need change to The City. Taxpaying residents who go to work every day in normal times and businesses are entitled to some consideration at Silly Hall.

    1. Howard – Philly only has about 1.5m pop. Budget ’20-21 = $5B

      But, nice to know its another City-n-County. Like Honolulu. And I’m not sure how many others (few).

  7. “San Francisco is not corrupt” seems like a weird takeaway, Mr. Eskenazi, given that every other month new indictments for corruption drop.

    1. Dear sir or madam — 

      How about you read the story and actually ask me about what’s in it?



  8. I thought my post was deleted.??? i was wrong. i look like an idiot. I apologize. but the damage is done.

    i will make a small donation as penance.

    1. I accept your apology. Your gesture is appreciated but not necessary.

      Please just try to keep a level head. Nobody is owed a platform.

      It can take a while for a moderator to get to a comment after you’ve written it. Additionally, comments that require fact-checking or make ad-hominem attacks or ramble excessively may just not be published. Please keep that in mind moving forward.



      1. Maria,


        Send me a copy of Kimberly’s autobiography.

        She invited one of my journalist friends into her car in the lot outside a yearly political event and showed him an album of her doing underwear poses.

        Nothing more.

        Just leading with her strong suit to gain attention.

        Wonder if that will be there?

        Go Giants!


  9. i bet i know where some of that $340 million to the homeless goes. to pay your rent. i destroyed your bullshit Golden gate park case… . but you wouldn’t post that would you…. pathetic progressive carpet baggers have helped destroy this city. mission local?? lol.

    i want an apology. straight up.

      1. Joe,

        Kid’s passion is admirable.

        Hope it’s not just a good batch of meth.

        He’s way off base and clearly owes you and all of your readers a, ‘my bad’ for putting up with his selfish rants.

        Giants stuck with their hand while bouncing in and out of last place?

        Hey, it’s the game I love.

        Not any particular management.

        Or, even, lineup.


    1. Carlos,

      Send em $21.17 on a monthly rollover cause you’re probably in my income class.

      I’m a retired vet and the year-end sorting of my accounts left me with an extra $24 a month.

      Had Luke send it to 48 Hills on same Mission Local Rollover and I feel like Bill Gates.

      You got a talent and energy and brains.

      And, as Bob Dylan wrote …


      Lemme know if audio fails?


  10. i see you deleted my post. for me to open the time and energy and for you to spit ion my face and delete my post is cause for concern. i literally destroyed your ignorance. and i did it with grace. but because it didnt fit your narrative of fake compassion and lies you chose not to post it. which you have that right. but with that right comes consequence and you my dear friend crossed the line. i don’t know where you are from you. but I’m gonna show you what I’m about. I’m not gonna give you the whole thing. just a two piece. just a quick 1 2. xoxo

    1. Sir — 

      These comments are moderated in real-time. As in: I had to go live my life and come back to the computer to get to the stuff that built up. Nobody’s deleted anything.

      But now *you’ve* crossed the line. You’re done commenting here.



      1. C’mon Joe!!!

        Let the kid learn the ropes before he joins the real combat.

        He’s worth keeping?

        Hope you rethink that.

        Banning anyone is not like you.

        Stop by and pick up your antique Atlas and I have a tin of gummies for you.

        Whatever, thanks for all you do and best to you and yours.


  11. Oy the tents. They started with Occupy (before that it was just a rag tag group of derelict sex offenders and felons in RV’s, cast west from Mission Bay.
    Cleared for the build out with money provided by the railroad Barron’s last gasp – a real estate development spin off called Catellus, and muscle from Pinkertons, still on contract with Southern Pacific – you know, Indians, train robbers and strikers – after 150 odd years.

    I remember the 1st chop shop, set up in the Wells Fargo bank parking lot near City Hall. Kind of like a demo for SFGov review and approval. They’re still around, but in the Mission now, with huge tangles of hundreds of bikes, spilling across the wide sidewalks and into streets. They don’t want anything to do with the injection tents, or the psychotic meth head tents, or the scraggly sex for sale tents (and RV’s).

    All of this is known to the people who bother to know. But nowhere to be seen in the news. Instead we’re fed fictions and fantastical characters out of Dickens.

    San Francisco has become to the loony far-left’s efforts to reelect Donal Trump what Kimberly Guilfoyle is to Gavin Newsom’s inevitably thick, alliteration-packed and self laudatory autobiography: a train wreck so dependably absurd as to warrant at least a mention, no matter how embarrasing.

    1. Maria,


      Send me a copy of Kimberly’s autobiography.

      She invited one of my journalist friends into her car in the lot outside a yearly political event and showed him an album of her doing underwear poses.

      Nothing more.

      Just leading with her strong suit to gain attention.

      Wonder if that will be there?

      Go Giants!


  12. In 1960 San Francisco had a population of about 740K and less than 7,000 public sector workers.

    Today San Francisco has a population of around 890K and over 37,000 public sector workers.

    Accordingly during this period the population of San Francisco increase about 20%, however its public sector employment increased well over 400% (– 428% to be exact.)

    It is far past time to trim the massive excesses of the bloated San Francisco public sector.

  13. Thanks for taking this on, Mr. Eskenazi. Please keep us posted.

    While there is clearly room for improvement, I find San Francisco a lovely place to live and i weary of the “they come from out of town” and “so and so wants to get rich off the homeless” and “it is horrible here” simplistic crap.

    The current situation with poverty and homelessness and the complex web of non-profits and government agencies that serve them did not develop overnight, and it will not be fixed overnight.

    I am very supportive of local progressive efforts to make things better. I am very worried about any group with shadowy funding that purports to be part of the solution while making vague statements about how current efforts are ineffective: there are many effective efforts to support. Why not just support them instead of creating the appearance of a “new movement” for probably secondary gain unrelated to what is really needed?

    1. nothing “vague” here. the vast majority of homeless drug addicts are from out of town FACT. I’m from the city. I grew up next door to the ghetto. (google PINK PALACE projects san francisco) I’ve sold dope. I’ve been locked up. AND many years ago i worked at a homeless shelter as a floor monitor (geary and polk) …. i only speak on what i know. and i know the streets. Local progressive efforts will not make things better. they have made things much worse. Yes, there is an issue of class poverty and affordability etc etc. we all know that i hope, But the reason many human beings come to this city is because their “lifestyle” has put them out of house and home. i.e. they have burnt their bridges. they come to city from all over the country, because the city, conscious or not, SUPPORTS their lifestyle. and those in the city that just want to live their lives relatively stress free, suffer for it… last week my apartment complex was broken into and packages were stolen, 2 were mine… and more than once iv’e had a women, a complete stranger, request for me to escort them across the street because the were in fear of the “crazy homeless guy…” i could go on and on… the 2019-2020 homeless budget in SF was $364 million (??) $364 million. where did that go??? that’s crazy. we got more folks on the streets than ever… i didn’t know this until I had a cellmate: he lived in Golden Gate Park, there are literally hundreds of kids that come to San Francisco and live in the park, they have actual clicks/gangs, all living in the park, it’s like this hobo subculture/lifestyle, and they aren’t from here originally, and they all do dope, it is what it is, letting folks get high and boost (steal) and sleep in a tent is not gonna a change a thing. not a thing. i’m over it. if you see what i see on a daily basis. you’d move to East Bay like my brother did. but I cant afford to. I love this city (as I’m sure you all do) and it’s urban grit and diversity/flavor and all it’s imperfections but not this … lastly, as anyone ever talked to these “homeless people??? ” talk to them. don’t be afraid. give them a couple bucks and talk to them. and then you will see the truth. i don’t have all the answers, but you can not address a problem, until you address the problem HONESTLY. those are my words, and for those that call San Francisco home I hope they resonate…. peace

      1. Karlos,

        Again, you’re hell of a talent.

        The gas in your tank was made in Hell and that helps.

        Ask Joe if you can cover this scene for him as a regular contributor.

        It would be good for both of you.

        And, us readers.


    2. You can check the stats for “they came from out of town”. Look at the semi-annual Point In Time Homeless Count. They consistently document 25-40% or respondents saying they were homeless elsewhere before they came here. Thats been every two years for the last 15 ys or so. Then, when you look at other stats, 1500-3000 individuals are housed yearly (its our “progress”; in fact, half of the $300+M yearly homeless budget goes to pay that housing) – yet the homeless count does not reflect that decrease. Instead the homeless count stays flat or increases (maybe the 30% that are out-of-towners arriving regularly?!).

      As for the “getting rich” … not quite the Steve Bannon millions. More like the steady jobs, many well paying, that cater to this issue (HOT team members are lobbying for $120k pay checks; Homeless Czar = $300+k). Solve homelessness and those jobs disappear.

      As for the “its horrible here”, frankly, I’ve been here almost 50 yrs and it does seem to be at a low point. YMMV

  14. Point of clarification: there is no measure on the November ballot that taxes CEOs. Prop L taxes a company, not an individual. Nor does Prop L levy a tax upon a CEO’s wealth. Prop L is a gross receipts tax based upon the ratio between a company’s highest paid executive and the compensation of the company’s median employee in San Francisco.

    It’s possible that a company’s CEO is also the company’s highest paid employee. But there are also many examples of companies within San Francisco where the CEO is not the highest paid employee. Proponents of the measure cite the wealthiest men in the world as the reason this tax is needed, but in truth, those men and their companies are unlikely to be subject to the measure.

      1. Will you be editing the paragraph, below, to reflect that clarification?

        “As such, we do have several tax measures on the ballot this year. They include: a consensus gross receipts tax; a tax on high-earning CEOs…”

          1. Joe,

            Loving your interactions with me and the thundering herd.

            That means lots.

            You seldom see even a twice a month columnist answer comments.

            Let alone, a Managing Editor.

            You’re not wasting your time.

            Go giants!

            Can you believe Niners open in 11 days?


    1. The measure is another “give us more money, we’re San Francisco,” tax measure. SF’s bureaucracy needs constant tax infusions to keep its Ponzi scheme of mismanagement going.

      Problematically, Covid is causing companies to leave SF or down-scale operations here. SF’s tax measure will hardly encourage more companies to remain.

      If you want to see what a city looks like without companies or commerce, take a look at Detroit or any of a host of previously desirable commerce centers around the country.

      No need to look to Detroit; just take a look at now-shabby SF. The City won’t revitalize soon, especially not with the current crop of fools running SF. Welcome to the new Detroit.

  15. Thanks for the tip! SF that works for everyone sounds like an organization I’d support. Wouldn’t have found it without you.

  16. Kudos to Lurie.

    SF government is firmly in the hands of activists who promote their particular agenda over the general wellbeing.
    That’s why HSOC, 311, Board of Supes, and SFPD are all practically hostile to residents who don’t want illegal, unsanitary tents, navigation centers, or injection centers located nearby.

    Board of Supes staff could easily drive around neighborhoods to report graffiti, garbage, and tents. Instead, SFGov burdens SF residents and property owners with tracking and reporting these public problems, requiring residents to call 311 and wait through its call tree, or report via SF’s app.

    311 responds that SF will not move the encamped because of CDC Covid guidance. Right. SF didn’t exactly deal with encampments before Covid. CDC guidance does not say that cities should allow encampments where there are drug dealing, crime rings, squalor, and filth. Even if CDC had said that cities should prevent disease by promoting disease, since when has the City followed federal law, let alone federal recommendations?

    311 responds that encampment complaints are handled based on the “needs of the individual” encampers. I.e., to hell with the needs of SF residents who pay thousands monthly to live here. The City requires property owners to clean up graffiti–even graffiti on the sidewalk–but SF won’t keep the sidewalk clear of encampments, and SF won’t allow property owners to clean sidewalks where the encamped create filth.

    It’s not rocket science to fix these problems, and doesn’t require any great effort at analysis. Rather, SF Gov needs to have the political courage to abandon long-held delusions.

    1. The problem is not helped by the particular way 311 is set up. Right now, if you call in an issue (say, illegal street camping), you get assigned a tracking number. If I call in the same issue, I get assigned a different tracking number. On a daily basis, 311 staff comb through the issues submitted. If two (or more) people have called in about the same issue, 311 designates one of those issues as the “real” one, the others as “duplicates,” and—here’s the kicker—MARKS ALL THE “DUPLICATE” ISSUES AS RESOLVED. There’s no way that you can track the issue that you called in about, no way to connect the duplicates with the officially designated issue, and no way to find out whether your issue has been resolved.

      The result is that the more people call in about an issue, the fewer people are able to keep track of it, and the more people get frustrated with the system and eventually give up. 311 is custom designed to frustrate as many people as possible. It should be retooled from the ground up.

  17. The homeless Coalition is nothing more than organization to get folks rich. we do not have a homeless problem in San Francisco. we have have politician problem that encourages drug addicts from all over the world to come to San Francisco to party… and can you blame them??? cheap drugs (est $20 for a gram of meth) u can shoplift at Walgreens all day just make sure it’s under $1000 so you don’t get charged and if you are charged you will back out on the streets in 24hrs anyway…. party party party. smoke and shoot up drugs on the street, watch your sum free porn on your free phone on your free wifi… how many of the “homeless” are residents of this city that lost the roof under their heads due to the economics??? 5%? 2%? 20%? I don’t know the exact #… but i know this, there hasn’t been a study. and there wont be, because it counters the leftist narrative. either you are ignorant to life on the streets or you don’t care or you are an idiot…. journalism should be meant to inform, enlighten….instead it is used as tool to deceive….. and those not living behind pearls gates are meant to suffer for it

    1. I forgot to add the “tent part” but you get the drift …. you can’t fix a problem with lies… i’m not advocating “criminalizing” homelessness… but if the city made consequences for certain behaviors than a large percentage of the street-living addicted population will go somewhere else, and them we could you the funds available to better serve those that want help….

      1. really? hint of sarcasm perhaps. I’m surprised actually you allowed my post. so you get a points…. so, give me sum of that info. tell me what i don’t know. lets hear it. take a few minutes and inform me about the “unhoused” living among us…. correct my ignorance… no disrespect, I really want to hear your truth… I’m not talking about the Homeless Coalition dis… i want you to inform me on the dynamics/ demographics of those on the streets…. i would assume you live in the city. you care etc. you use this platform you created out of love. i doubt its a quick get rich scheme, so i have to respect that … so take a min and tell me where I’m wrong instead of smug remarks

        1. Dude — 

          This isn’t a drive-through. We don’t take orders here. I’ll get to it when I get to it.



        2. for the record I’m not saying you are guilty of deception… but the MSM is. race. covid etc etc… lies lies lies. … so I can’t go to the gym. I can’t work. I can’t even foster care for a kitten to combat my loneliness. why??? what virus? 0.01% of the city… the numbers don’t justify it. and we are seeing lock downs do NOT work… but the “homeless” get free hotels and drugs. makes sense. or am i being cruel and selfish..? hope this city rebounds. because the way things are going it’s ALL bad

          1. Karlos – China seems to have solved it — tight lock-down.

            Apparently it takes a dictator. Too bad our home-grown dictator in DC is so bad at it – no matter how hard he tries to be.

            Hoax? I dunno. But if someone sez: “put your head in the lions mouth – nothing will happen!”, I will err on the side of caution.

        3. How about you literally just Google what you are looking for and read reports that have been issued by different organizations, including the aforementioned Tipping Point and the City and County of SF? If you’re actually serious about it, there is lots of information to take in. Coming here demanding that people retype everything for you is lazy and childish.

        4. Karlos,

          You’re ragging on your best advocate.

          Frame his responses.

          On the other hand, I love your writing.

          Pure, direct, passionate and ignorant.

          No one can teach the first 3 and you should be grateful to have been gifted them.


          First, you gotta have a willing student and you don’t seem to be that.

          You seem more interested in transferring your bad vibes.

          Go Giants!


  18. Joe, after reading this article and your response to a comment, I took your advice and read your article “The worst run big city in the US”. That article is so critical of San Francisco government, its mega spending, and the unbelievable lack of results for spending so much money. I wonder if you can point to any solutions to the mess our city is in? I live in SF for over 2 decades. I am a homeowner. I use many of the city’s public services such as public transportation, the public library, and the parks.. I have grown tired of the grime, the homelessness, the horrible conditions of our streets, the poorly functioning public services etc. More and more, I consider just leaving the city but I it is my home and it is hard to give up. I am the target audience for an organization like San Francisco that works for everyone., I have read their website but there is not much there yet in terms of policy. I found your article to be very critical of the organization but based on your article, you don’t know much about the organizations policies yet either. Can you point to where we should be looking to find solutions for our city or are we just doomed to be critical of our current state and, at the same time, critical of anyone who proposes change?

    1. Donald — 

      We can acknowledge the status quo is not working but also acknowledge that this, in itself, is not a policy discussion. And it also doesn’t mean that literally any suggestion will change things for the better.

      Our problems are long-running and complex. Fixing them, or even mitigating them, will require complex and thorough analysis and solid policy. San Francisco that Works For Everyone hasn’t even attempted to do this yet, and launching this effort with a light-on-policy visceral appeal seems like an interesting move.

      That could change. Hopefully it will.


    2. I remember reading this article when it first came out and thought it was too forgiving. Unfortunately, the politics of SF doesn’t allow moving forward in an integrated, rational way in most cases. A lot of it lends to be a lack backbone by the Mayor and a lack of unified will by many of the often disparate and overlapping Commissions. Then we wonder why there is a lack of accountability for managers in the City.

  19. I feel like this isn’t a homelessness problem, it is a drug problem. It seems to me that the people living in encampments are using and abusing drugs, and that is the real problem. I am sure there are plenty of homeless people searching for ways to get back on their feet, but these are not the people that I see every day on the streets of san francisco. The people on the streets, living in tents, are zombies that have to be addicted to drugs and constantly refuse help from the services that are being offered to them. I want to start talking about how to solve drug abuse and people with mental illness living on our streets, not the homeless.

    1. It is a drug abuse problem. But the SF political class does not concern itself with reality, only Alice in Wonderland fantasies that perpetuate obviously inane programs and salaries necessary to run those programs. Some day, adults may run San Francisco. Now is simply not the time for that.

  20. Joe, you are consistently an insightful thinker and fine writer. Thank you for being here to inform us all the time.

  21. Tax increases ? This bloated, unaccountable and corrupt city spends 12 billion a year already. Both San Diego and San Jose, both bigger cities, spend 4.5 billion. Even Los Angeles with 4 million people and 502.7 square miles (compared to San Francisco’s 800K and 49 square miles) spends 10.5 billion, 1.5 billion less than San Francisco. Corruption and fraud are rampant in this devious city.

    1. Clyde — 

      We spend a lot, but you’re regurgitating decades-old arguments. San Francisco is a city-county, and while that doesn’t excuse everything, it does mean our expenses will always look higher. We also run an airport, several hospitals, etc.

      That makes things harder to check against our peers because there isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. It requires more individualized fiscal scrutiny.

      Benjamin Wachs and I delved into this in our “Worst-Run City” article. It’s 11 years old, but relevant: https://archives.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/the-worst-run-big-city-in-the-us/Content?oid=2175354&showFullText=true

      With that said, reductive thinking won’t solve our problems. Not all taxes are equal.


      1. Interesting that the city managed to double the budget in the intervening 11 years, yet the city is in arguably worse shape than ever. As for things the budget pays for, I’ve been to all the mentioned cities and they all manage to have airports and hospitals on far less money ?

        1. Clyde — 

          They manage that because those things aren’t paid for by the cities.

          I’m not going to stand up for our budget and say it’s great, but your approach is reductive and won’t lead to illumination.


          1. If other cities can get away with not supporting their airports why should San Francisco pay for one? I agree with BiPp. What is the justification for running an airport that doesn’t turn a profit? San Francisco is no longer the shinning example of excellent governance it claimed to be. Perhaps it never was. If the city needs more cash they can quit selling property at extreme discounts and remove some of the dead wood. Quite doing business with contractors under investigation or proven to be corrupt.

      2. It was $12.2 billion for 2019. I challenge you to find what it is for 2020. Sfgov hides it well. The city/county argument is an old canard that makes no sense. Running the airport should generate more than it costs with all the tourist taxes. Compare apples to apples: we spend more than LA on street cleaning for example, and we are 1/10th the size. And I’d add that our streets consistently rank among the dirtiest. Dig a little deeper than what the hacks tell you; you are a journalist. This city could be the greatest in the world. but people have to know the truth and care. Use your platform to ferret out the graft. You’d be a hero.

        1. Hey there. Off the top of my head the proposed 2020 budget is $13.7B.

          Your claim that the city-county distinction is a “canard” is simplistic. It’s a very real and valid way of accounting who pays for what. It does not, however, suffice in and of itself to explain our massive budget, as I noted *11 years ago* in the story pasted within this comment thread.

          It’s dishonest to say this alone explains the costs, but it’s dishonest to ignore it, too.

          On the airport specifically: My understanding is that under FAA rules, you can’t generate profits from the airport or else you couldn’t charge landing fees. Money above costs goes into things like sea level mitigation. Now SFO is running at a huge deficit. And, regardless, *it’s an item in the budget, and one that isn’t on other cities’ budgets.*

          It’s always worthwhile and good to ferret out graft. But let’s not pretend that graft and graft alone is the driver of this city’s swollen budget.

          Your contention that I haven’t gone beneath surface-level word-of-mouth from the “hacks,” on a matter I’ve covered on and off for more than a decade, is stupid and insulting.



          1. Joe – I agree with your take. However, I haven’t seen this pointed out anywhere – this years budget is 10% larger than last years – w/o accounting for the negotiated labor wage increases!

            It would be interesting to know where all that extra money is going.

            Thx for your reasoned tone.

        2. Not only are SF streets the dirtiest, they are the worst maintained in the ENTIRE NATION! Sorry to be reductive Joe . But how can this happen when we have a budget 3 times larger than both San Jose and San Diego ? To be fair, San Jose has the second worst roads in the nation. But they do it on 4.5. billion to our 13.7 billion.

    2. You are not acounting for commuters & tourist that virtually double the size of San Francisco’s population on a daily basis, and the demands on City Services that it brings about. All of our additional faux-citizens have real needs, and cause real wear and tear.

      Covid-19 has certainly reduced workers & visitors, but our budget was not built with this virus in mind.

      San Francisco City Workers, are based on the real population that inhabits our streets, even if it is just for their jobs or enjoyment, not just the basic tenants that live here.