MoneyMart on Valencia and 16th. In May, windows were shattered during the night in a break-in, where nothing was stolen. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

Castro Merchants, with the help of Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, have proposed citywide legislation that will reimburse small business owners up to $2,000 for storefront windows broken by vandalism or break-ins.

This program, which would be run by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, will reimburse businesses for up to two incidents a year if they file a police report and claim with the city. 

Castro Merchants completed a study the past year called “Castro Business Storefront Glass Damage Recorder” that recorded broken storefront glass in the Castro, showing at least 93 incidents of broken storefront windows at Castro businesses since January of last year, totaling more than $168,000 in damages.  

“We are very pleased to see Supervisor Mandelman taking up this legislation and pushing the City to do a better job protecting San Francisco’s vital small business community,” said Masood Samereie, president of Castro Merchants.

Mandelman said that “paying to fix smashed windows multiple times a year should not be normalized as just another cost of doing business, another tax paid by San Francisco’s businesses and residents.”

Sebastian Jellema, the store manager at Rolo, a clothing store in the Castro, said breaking windows has become “an epidemic, it’s insane.” 

In part, he attributed the increase to the fact that the mental health issues of residents living on the street have gotten so bad that homeless people have nothing else to do than smash windows at 3 a.m. 

According to Jellema, other nearby businesses in the Castro, such as MX3 Fitness, Crystal Way, and CoreMVMT, have also struggled to keep up with repairs for vandalized windows.

Although window break-ins in the Mission have not become as commonplace as in the Castro, there still have been broken windows, including at the Money Mart on Valencia and 16th Streets, which took place last week. 

Mandelman says he “hopes that this legislation will be a temporary measure that becomes unnecessary as San Francisco gets a handle on property crime and finds appropriate interventions to bring unhoused folks with severe mental illnesses indoors. But in the meantime, it’s the least we can do to support our small businesses.” 

Clara-Sophia Daly

Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys...

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9 Comments

  1. I see. So, instead of trying to solve the increasing property crime problem with prevention, intervention or other more aggressive measures, we’ll just reimburse store owners for their losses.

    Don’t get me wrong. I sympathize with the store owners. I understand that this is a real problem for them, but in typical SF fashion, we’re going to “solve” the problem by continuing to ignore, or dare I say, in this case, tolerate, the root causes of the problem and instead simply throw more money (yes, our taxpayer money) at it.

    Until we decide that we will no longer tolerate the tyranny of the homeless industrial complex in SF dictating the enforcement of our laws, the cleanliness of our streets and the wellbeing of our citizens, we are doomed to continue further and further down the path towards a third world slum disguised as a first world city.

    1. Agreed.
      Jeez.
      Just park a couple of cop cars in the area with amber lights flashing from 12:00 AM to 6:00 AM.
      They don’t even have to sit in them – that would be too much to ask.
      Some kinda minimum presence even if it’s just pretend.
      But this plan probably won’t fly cause there ain’t no 24 hour donut house nearby to hang out at.

      1. Riiiiiiiight . . . we’ll just park a police car in front of every business in San Francisco. I see no problem whatsoever with that plan.

        1. One car at Castro &18th.
          One car at Market & 16th.
          The Mission?
          Police station at 17th and Valencia for Jeezus’ sake.
          You’d figure a couple of them could just drive up and down Mission once every hour or so. Duh.

    2. I could not agree more. When you tolerate crimes (and, yes, these are definitely crimes), you can’t act surprised when you get more crime.

  2. “Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said that ‘paying to fix smashed windows multiple times a year should not be normalized as just another cost of doing business, another tax paid by San Francisco’s businesses and residents.’”

    So exactly where is the money coming from for this program, if not tax revenue paid by businesses and residents? Is SF going to start printing money?

    This is making *everyone* pay for broken windows, not just those who happen to have a business with glass at street level.

  3. They should have the money come from the police department or DA funds, instead.

    Give them some incentive to fix the problem.

  4. So, will they be paying for my broken car window as well? Don’t businesses have insurance that covers this expense? Like others have said, how about putting our energy into prevention rather than writing checks on the backs of taxpayers?

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