A vendor makes change on 24th Street BART Plaza. Photo by Lydia Chávez

Angel — we’ll call him Angel — didn’t see the argument break out. But he could certainly hear it. It was in English, which, he notes, both the warring parties spoke impeccably. 

Arguments erupt at 24th Street BART Plaza between vendors all the time. This Aug. 28 fracas was, at its onset, nothing to note: “They were arguing, but I did not pay attention,” Angel recalled later. “I was eating my lunch.” 

But then the knife came out. 

In the end, 28-year-old Jabaree Harris ended up face-down and dead on the BART platform; it’s not clear how much more quickly police or onlookers would’ve come to a stabbing victim’s aid if he hadn’t been mistaken for one the area’s ubiquitous fentanyl addicts sleeping one off. Plaza regulars recalled Harris as a “nice kid” who peddled shoes and clothes. 

His killer fled and remains at large. As best as Angel can tell, the lethal dispute was over a matter of $50, which the aggressor may have taken from Harris. 

Nobody can pretend that Harris’ death was unsurprising, or even unpredictable. The 24th Street BART Plaza was never a garden of earthly delights although, for many years, 16th Street was far more problematic: It was the place where trash piled up and drugs were sold openly and the city responded by putting in an intentionally uncomfortable bench and a monolith-sized ping-pong table.

In recent months, however, 24th Street Plaza has devolved into a black-market bazaar, and a fentanyl and needle-drug site. Yes, there are still a very few legitimate vendors on its periphery selling food or handicrafts and, yes, there are folks offering flea market-type stuff. But an awful lot of the sellers hawking in this plaza are selling medications, groceries or toiletries, and clothes obviously swiped from brick-and-mortar stores, perhaps brick-and-mortar stores only a stone’s throw away. This is not a place many paleteros or fruit men want to be, and some are now afraid to be here.  

Many sellers only stay long enough to make a quick buck, then hand that money over to a dope dealer (perhaps also on-site); on a recent Thursday, a man was seen selling a jacket out of a Nordstrom sack. He wanted $30 and he got it; he handed a woman $20 in change with his left hand while grasping a glass pipe in his right. 

A man on 24th Street Plaza selling a jacket out of a Nordstrom bag makes change with one hand and grasps a glass pipe with the other. Photo by Lydia Chávez.

“Honestly, that is my fear,” replies Supervisor Hillary Ronen when asked if the plaza has become the Mission’s Tenderloin. 

“The Mission is worse than I’ve seen it since I took office six years ago. We need more street cleaning, we need to deal with graffiti, we need more resources for the people sleeping in the Mission to be given rooms and hotels and safe sleep sites and navigation centers. And we need the vendor law to be enforced. It’s a mess right now, and I’m angry.” 

Everybody’s angry, or at least nobody is happy. But you could say the same about the Tenderloin, too — and, despite periodic and oft-farcical “crackdowns,” that neighborhood has suffered through its grim status quo for generations. 

Too often, narratives of San Francisco and its meth-poop hell-hole dystopia ignore the fact that crime is, by and large, down — and violent crime is way down. But Mission lifers don’t need to be reminded of this. The 1980s and ’90s were awash in gang-fueled violence and terror that make today’s crime statistics look like a child’s experiment. And still, like Ronen, long-timers say things have never been like this. 

The 24th Street Plaza “brings tears to my eyes,” says former supervisor Jim Gonzalez, who assumed office in 1986. 

“It’s the worst it’s ever been,” sums up Carlos “Kookie” Gonzalez, no relation, a youthful “Folsom Park Loco” turned probation officer, and now a muralist. 

“The Mission is far safer from shootings and robberies,” says a veteran ex-cop who patrolled this neighborhood from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s and is now a regular visitor. “But the overall quality of life has cratered.”

“And that is the irony.”  

The erstwhile fence around 24th Street BART Plaza was stacked, neatly, in the corner. Aug. 21, 2022 photo by Yujie Zhou.

Irony is a term that’s misused a good bit. But this does sound ironic: A community is terrorized by internecine gang violence, hollowed out by gentrification, re-populated by wealthy arrivistes — and then quality of life goes to shit? 

What a Pyrrhic victory for long-timers who stuck it out. But that’s what happened. And these steps weren’t unrelated: Nobody is pining for the return of violent criminal gangs, but petty crooks and drug dealers and addicts of yore would have been wise to avoid setting up shop in broad daylight on Mission Street. Many of the vendors selling suspect goods tell us they’re commuting into San Francisco.

“I hate to say it, but I don’t think this would’ve happened when gangs were prevalent,” summed up Kookie Gonzalez. “They probably wouldn’t have allowed it.” 

“My house is in a gang injunction zone,” notes Tracy Gallardo, a neighborhood lifer who serves on the Latino Task Force. “I never had my car broken into. There was never graffiti left on any neighborhood agencies. No one openly did drugs. No one peed on 24th Street in front of kids.”

The scene on the plaza is a source of deep pain for Gallardo; women always endured catcalls, but the situation now has grown menacing. And fentanyl makes everything worse. “You can see it’s just dirty all the time. And a lot of the vendors we want to protect — they’re not even there. They are afraid for their safety, of getting robbed or being charged by someone to be there.” 

The lawlessness and chaos escalated to the point that Ronen, in July, asked BART to temporarily fence off the plaza until a functional vendor permitting system could be rolled out.

“A lot of the vendors we want to protect — they’re not even there. They are afraid for their safety.”

Tracy Gallardo

More than 40 years ago, the urbanist William Whyte concluded that making public spaces inhospitable for “undesirables” actually leads to moving out everyone but “undesirables.” And that’s pretty much what happened: The fences may have limited the number of people on-scene, but pushed the vendors and brazen criminality out of the plaza and into streets already filled with vendors. This crowded bus passengers and BART patrons even more at one of the system’s busiest stops, and did little to alleviate the chaotic scene greeting anyone hoping to walk along an economic corridor lined with mom-n-pop shops. 

Last month, activists, for the second time, removed the fencing (and stacked it, neatly, in a corner, which was an unexpected and kind touch). It’s hard to say that fence did much good, but Ronen says she’s never gotten more constituent thank-you notes than after she called for its temporary installation. The situation has clearly grown untenable, and something had to be done. 

This, at least, was something.    

As William Whyte could tell you, attempts to move out “winos” with inhospitable architecture actually leads to moving everyone out but “winos.”

On Aug. 23, hundreds of community members attended an outdoor meeting convened by more than 20 Mission groups to discuss the future of the plaza.

There were plenty of good ideas to be had, but much is dependent on the enforcement of the city’s newish vendor law and the licensing of vendors to enable that enforcement. 

Many people have worked extremely hard to hone the policies meant to make 24th Street Plaza unremarkable again. Nobody should belittle these efforts. But the preliminary assessments are not looking favorable. 

To wit: San Francisco Public Works has reported that, as of Aug. 30, it had received 50 permit applications. It has approved four. Enforcement is set to begin on Sept. 12. So, this does not bode well. 

Nor do the parameters of the permitting process: For a peddler to receive one, they must have a business license, which requires the aspiring permit-holder to disclose estimated gross receipts and possess a Federal Tax Identification Number. 

For many, that will be a challenge. And even if a peddler obtains a business license and vendors permit, that only gives them the right to sell from the sidewalk. Since 24th Street Plaza is on BART land, there’s another permit from the transit agency to sell on the plaza. 

And we haven’t even gotten to enforcement: The plan, as it stands, is for Public Works employees to confiscate the goods from scofflaw vendors who refuse to leave the site after being warned. It’s not hard to see problems potentially erupting when that occurs, however — and the role of police in helping to enforce the vendor law was a source of division at that Aug. 23 community meeting.

It’s easy to understand why many Mission locals fear and distrust the police. At the same time, it’s a cruel sort of beneficence to drop potentially confrontational and violent enforcement responsibilities onto the heads of Public Works employees. In essence, it puts a lower-paid and predominantly people-of-color workforce into a situation where it’s being asked to grab and take things predominantly from low-income people of color.   

Tough talk about offering drug users a choice of incarceration or treatment falls flat in a city where even addicts who desperately want treatment can’t get it — and where programming, such as drug-treatment, has been more or less curtailed in city jails

By all means, the “root causes” of poverty, drug addiction and homelessness fueling the chaos at 24th Street Plaza can and must be addressed, but the mantra of “root causes” can’t be trotted out as an excuse to do nothing. The Mission shouldn’t be made to wait for the transformation of all society into a utopia before focusing on this one tract of land. At some point, push will come to shove on this plaza. 

Left unsaid is that if drug dealers, users and unlawful vendors set up at, say, Lafayette Park instead of the Mission, the city’s response would lean less toward community meetings and more toward calling in the National Guard. 

Mission dwellers know this. As do Tenderloin dwellers, who’ve been made to put up with criminal and antisocial behavior for decades. And, while many in the Mission claim elements from the Tenderloin are merely migrating a couple of BART stops, the truth may be more insidious. 

This may not be a migration. It may be an expansion. It’ll take more than a fence to stop that.

Additional reporting from Lydia Chávez and Andrea Valencia.

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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, it’s decades of failed liberal
    Policies that has turned swaths of
    Sf into a cesspool…
    Too many far lefties are so
    Arrogant & clueless – you won’t admit how assbackward & corrosive your
    Policies are..
    When was the last time someone other than a FAR left dem had sway/weilded
    Political power in the mission ??

    The constant enabling and
    Appeasing criminals –
    That’ll clean up 24th.

  2. You will never get rid of the problems at 16th Street BART and 24th Street BART (and the SF homeless industrial complex, in general) until you adopt a “tough love” stance, and call in the National Guard. This problem has been a festering and slow-growing eyesore since Mayor Art Agnos was around, and we only have ourselves to blame.

    You can’t keep throwing City money into a black hole for homeless resources/services, and expecting the same results: these nonprofits are on take, and have ZERO INCENTIVE to get these people off the street. At least with the National Guard, you can enforce law & order with real results, and it has to be something far more more strict: shelter bed, mandatory 6-months in drug/alcohol treatment center, or mandatory instant enrollment in Army boot camp. If they end up on the street again after three strikes, they get a one-way flight to Afghanistan.

    You’ll have the sidewalks tent encampments cleared within 6 months. Stop enabling these people and accepting their lawlessness and disrespect for rules.

  3. Wait a second…. They need TWO permits?

    And the first is $400?

    Why, if cleaning this up (if possible) is a priority, then why not give them $50 to get a permit and make the permit free? And the city could pay for the second permit.

    The City has a $13-billion budget. We can afford this.

    Should there be any vendors at all? I saw one vendor tent where they were selling kitsch. Fresh squeezed orange juice is a positive.

    But do the men grilling hot dogs in a needed parking space really improve (or “add value” in corporate speak) the neighborhood?

    One thing is clear: We have major social problems that have been ignored for decades.

    And I very much doubt Hilary Ronen and London Breed are going to be able to resolve this.

    Unless they all decide to stay away (I’ll believe it when I see it), I do not see this readily resolved.

    BTW, Thank you for the link to the video.

  4. You should have mentioned how bad the 16th st. BART and empty Walgreens buildings are just as scuzzy and dangerous. In 30 years of living by there, it’s the worst it’s ever been. Mission street at and north of the BART station full of the same conditions as 24th street. Parts of 16th sr and Mission have blocked sidewalks, meaning wheelchair users and children etc. have to walk into traffic. Constantly have to look down to avoid needles, human shit, all sorts of trash. And also encampments everywhere . The problem has gone further up Capp street to the Marshall elementary school. Have to chase away druggies and clean up human shit from my residence. The city agencies rarely respond or don’t for days. It took a neighbor having KTVU come out to show what scool children had to encounter and embarrass Ronen have a rapid response.

  5. Why do you have to compare the Tenderloin to the Mission in terms of which is more of a toilet? As a 35-year resident both have problems, but at least the Tenderloin provides actual public bathrooms, while 24th/Mission is an open thieves market all it’s own.

  6. The fence was political posturing, optics, and all for show: Hilary Ronen is out of her depth, and delusional. Thank God she’s being termed-out, because putting up a fence accomplished nothing. Call in the National Guard immediately, and run these folks out of town: the neighbors have put up with the filthy and crowded sidewalks for too long. Gentrify 16th & 24th Street BART stations to the max, and allow SFPD to enforce law & order.

  7. The only incentives here are to do nothing and allow money to be laundered through make work done paid for by the city and done by the nonprofits, SFPD and DPW.

    The way to end addiction is to give people lives that are not shit. Otherwise, SF should try government opiates under medical supervision instead of Dorsey’s inane “right to recovery” for the 12% for whom (apparently Relapse Matt) 12 steps work. There is not going to be any housing forthcoming in numbers to solve the problems.

    We can’t get there from here and the center can no longer hold.

    We need approaches that keep the corrupted City Family and their nonprofit cartels as far away as possible.

  8. Fentanyl/Meth dealers AND current users need to be off the street before the other homeless can be helped. Some current user may be able to be rehabbed in alternate programs that require being denied freedom, in a drug free environment, until they clear up, yet don’t get a criminal record, as long as they don’t fall back in too many times.
    I recognize this a hard to accept in an age of permissive recreational drugs where people by and large know how to govern themselves and NOT fall into hell.

    However, that “principal of personal freedom” just cannot address the obvious cruelty of homeless + meth + fentanyl which is just screaming out all over the place, and causing injury to the inflicted and others who live near them. Better that people who care a little say time is up and do something before more drastic measures are taken.

  9. Yes let’s all give thanks to the great Mayor Breed, of homelessness in San Francisco. .
    The city is becoming a garbage homeless city
    Tenderloin, mission , and it will continue .
    Lots of people working on homelessness spending $$ on what ?? Not crime drugs garbage homelessness , crime because there is no results only worse.
    Only poop in Sts , mental persons with knives , drugs guns. Only tax payers have to follow laws
    Pick up garbage , pay parking tickets pay taxes . So homeless can camp in front of meters , private homes, poop and assault , run around naked . .
    Police come disarm talk and release to come back another day . It’s the new Catch and Release program like they do for raccoons .

  10. Just few months back, all of these problems were pinned on the DA. The propogandists for the recall practically guaranteed that removing Boudin from office would return SF to whatever glory days one missed the most.

    The city’s actual Tenderloin is still worse than the the Mission’s “Tenderloin.” Going on two years ago, a TL station sergeant told me and dozens of others (including many city employees from departments under the mayor’s control) that the problems in the TL were police-staffing related. Because of Covid, he insisted, there were only eight or ten cops on duty at during each shift. If we could just fix that, apparently, there wouldn’t be large groups of dealers, shit everywhere, tents on the sidewalk, kids stuck inside because families felt unsafe going outside, etc.

    What he said was impossible to believe, of course. SFPD had a large amount of reserved parking on Jones and Eddy Streets, plus a garage. At any given time, there are (and were) two dozen or more cop cars parked in those spots on the street, and who knows how many in the garage. But it didn’t matter, because Boudin was DA.

    Certainly Randy Shaw, a rather incompetent “journalist,” knew Boudin was the problem. That’s why the cops didn’t do anything – even if there were more than 8 or 10 on duty each shift. Just a week or so ago, Shaw proclaimed the DA can’t fix everything, nor is she responsible for all the problems. Now, Shaw blames the cops (you can read his “change of heart” on his self congratulatory Beyondchron).

    I don’t know if Shaw is right now – he certainly was wrong a few months ago. But I do know that we now have a new DA and nothing has changed.

    Crap on the street – real crap as well as garbage – is not the DA’s fault nor is it the supervisor’s fault. The problems are rather larger than that. But the clean up crews, the medical and social worker staff, and yes even the cops fall under the mayor’s giant bureaucratic umbrella.

  11. Hilary and her fellow BOS progressives are simply shills for Calle 24 and TODCO. Both organizations reek of corruption and drive self serving agendas. SF needs better.

  12. Love seeing “progressives” fall ass backwards into policing. So sorry that bumper sticker slogans aren’t good policy. Defund who? Cancel what? Abolish who?

    But ML deserves credit for the introspection and open mindedness. Sadly many other mission residents can only think in terms of those bumper stickers.

  13. San Francisco is definitely broken. An opulent backdrop to extreme poverty, drug addiction and death.

    As a nurse and long time San Franciscan, I am embarrassed to call this place a tech mecha and tourist attraction. It feels more like an open sewer and I genuinely feel terrible at tourist who come from all over the world to witness the atrocity that is SF.

    You have million dollar condos and outside feces and bum urine. The Tenderloin has spulled over and spread like some terrible disease to everywhere else. Downtown is a nightmare.

    So much finger pointing but nothing is done.

  14. I agree with Irish Scarlett. Hillary Ronen is clearly stating that the problem started when she took office. Yes indeed. Correct. Spot on. Supervisor Ronen has always been busy commenting on every little nonsensical social error, while ignoring her district. Hillary is quick to clutch the pearls and say she is disgusted with the police for even a hiccup, but has yet to manage her district well. Perhaps she should start building bridges with law enforcement to cope with the problems she is responsible for. Walk your district Hillary instead of sit in your office in City Hall. Come see what we see. No one cares about your personal opinions on who said what. You now have a fatality on your watch. Roll up your sleeves and do something tangible for the Mission.

  15. Hillary Ronen: “The Mission is worse than I’ve seen it since I took office six years ago. We need more street cleaning, we need to deal with graffiti, we need more resources for the people sleeping in the Mission to be given rooms and hotels and safe sleep sites and navigation centers. And we need the vendor law to be enforced. It’s a mess right now, and I’m angry.”
    We need, we need. Who does she think is going to get these things done? It is her JOB.

    1. Not to defend Hillary, but the Supervisors legislate and try to hold departments responsible to ‘do their jobs’ but it is the mayor to whom the police chief, bureaucrats, et Al report. Time for London to come out from wherever she’s been hiding and MANAGE!

  16. I literally just saw someone get mugged over there in broad daylight. The cops were in the area, and ready, and went after him.

  17. I love that the Mission Local staff members read these comments. Thank you for your integrity and for correcting the commenters who are willfully uninformed and antagonistic.

  18. I’ve been here, 2 blocks from 24th & Mission, for 40 years. Single mom, raised my kid here. It was a blue collar neighborhood in the 80’s & 90’s. You could walk to do all your errands. Now one store after another is closing. BART was a plus, now I am too scared to use it. I drive to Daly City for my shopping. Some of the fentanyl customers come to my home to use; my exterior walls are charred.
    Can the city be this incompetent & uncaring for the people who live here? Or perhaps this is a prelude to declaring 24th & Mission blighted, & bulldozing it for redevelopment?

    1. Incompetent? Absolutely. Uncaring? Definitely. The City enables these people to pitch a sidewalk tent, shoplift from Walgreen’s/CVS until they close, then get high all day & night and contribute nothing to society.

  19. >”Many people have worked extremely hard to hone the policies meant to make 24th Street Plaza unremarkable again. Nobody should belittle these efforts.”

    I feel no need to withhold potshots from city-funded, nonprofit gatekeepers. Legislative aides patrolling fences. Supervisors pushing DPW workers into authoritarian roles. Or cops. These are public servants and criticism comes with the territory.

    Yes, zooming in on the coat exchange photo I see a man with his arm in a sling holding a crack pipe. And I see a woman with calloused hands holding a new coat.

    The clientele deserve a mention somewhere up in here. Without them, the market ceases to exist. Who are they? And why are they predominantly left out of the dialogue?

  20. Lafayette Park – or better yet Alta Plaza maybe? I know them both well. Promise those tiger super moms up there would be on homeless like stink on, well, we get the idea. Walk Alta Plaza frequently, not a homeless to be seen – god forbid a tent. Just ain’t happening. The loonies, and I don’t mean the homeless, may have control of a majority of San Francisc but there is a not so invisible dividing line where lawlessness stops on a dime. And I drive around the Mission seeing all these tents, trash, and worse around residential areas. Proof positive they’re is a deep rooted sickness in this city. Just so truly sad the mindset that allows this. Almost impossible to get that genie back in the bottle at this point. I wonder how many of these new found entrepreneurs were previously working downtown cleaning highrises, etc? More collateral damage of the new Frisco normal.

  21. You guys sit at desks a few yards from this and barely uttered a peep as it spiraled out of control. The Mission is ground zero for stolen goods processing and sales (Dan Noyes reported this, but not you) operating out of crime camps — and all Hillary can say is they need hotel rooms? WHHHHAAATTTT?!?! And you’re dead wrong about the violence. I’ve lived here 35 years and it’s gone from positive to hellishly abysmal in a matter of a few years. As the affronts to decency get worse, you and Ronen’s pretzelled rationalizations get more and more farfetched. Cartel gangs operate in the open. Groups like “Homeys” hold tagging parties. Calle 24 and the Latino Task force put up posters that espouse racist ideology, doing nothing for the neighborhood. Businesses and residents are attacked. You live in the East Bay. You’re not part of a solution. You’re part of the problem.

      1. Hi Joe,

        Thanks for the good reporting in the article above.

        I think Maria’s point is that these issues have been ongoing (and worsening) for the past 5+ years – yet the reporting by MissionLocal on these topics has really only emerged over these past few months. Over the years, the lack of coverage on the sidewalk vending and subsequent crime feels a bit like you guys have been sweeping this stuff under the rug – instead of highlighting the ugly truth.

        1. So joe are your and/or mission local embracing law and order at the 24th street Bart spot? Police aren’t looking so bad these days.

    1. My kids attend school school a block away from there at BVHM. I have called Police Stations in regards to putting a patrol car with Police officers so kids may walk to school safe. School is a K-8 and many of these kids tend to walk or bike to school. It is embarrassing that our children need to almost walk on the street where cars pass to be able to avoid all those people stacked up on 24th and Mission St. It is unacceptable that they can’t even go to the McDonald’s without fearing for their safety. The Police Station only said Hillary Ronen is trying to take care of the situation. I was also told that maybe the school should put an effort with parents to avoid children to passing through 24th and Mission St. What kind of help is this from the SFPD. As a person who grew up in the Tenderloin it’s crazy to think the SFPD would have helped in any way.

    2. Spot on. Calle 24, HOMEY, MEDA and Latino Task Force all support and enable this disgusting lifestyle. They get millions of dollars in funding to keep Mission Street looking like the trash can it is.

  22. I lived a block away from the 24th BART station in 91 for a few months and the area was cool. It’s changed in the last 30 years. I visited someone on Eddy Street in the TL in 75 and the TL was cool then too. You would be surprised how different things can be over time. With progressive ideologues mentally incapable of seeing or dealing with drug sales, things can get worse and the worse can then spread and the 20-something’s won’t have a clue that things were ever different. Parts of the city are being sucked down a drug hole. But Ronen and her ilk are only afraid of a new war on drugs. They are clueless and thus incapable of thinking of anything but lipstick measures like dealing with graffiti and street cleaning. Keep electing Ronen and expect things to continue to get worse again.

    1. No, no, it’s a housing problem. When housing gets too expensive people turn to theft and drugs. Just give them a house and dope sickness is cured and the dealers will simply disappear.

      1. So, Will, giving people housing actually is the most effective intervention when it comes to getting people out of addiction.

        Sorry your snark and disdain kept you from seeing some inconvenient facts.

  23. Once upon a time in a country that did not celebrate May day.
    There was a man named Elon Musk who had $224 billion offshore
    and another J.Bezoz Midas making life into electrons who had $180 billion offshore
    and produced “rings of POWER” for the millions
    for some reason in this country there was the “homeless problem” and “undesirables”
    in SF just two blocks away from ” classy cocktails” and gourmet cuisine enjoyed by
    folks benefiting from the Jeff and Elon and their billionaire friends
    unfortunately there were only journalists and no novelists like Dickens, Zola, Hugo,Gorky etc but only the billionaire class NY Times , KQED , TV, google sites
    so the appearance of the” Raft of the Medusa “survival struggle
    for folks not familiar with the world’s largest prison population
    are puzzled and dismayed that such could occur in their nice clean life
    Chinese Proverb..”The begger at the gate predicts the ruin of the state”

    1. great comment. having lived in this city for decades, working mainly in the TL & the mission, i’ve never understood how people persist in discussing Homelessness & Crime The Problem without simultaneously discussing Mega Wealth & Greed The Problem. you don’t have one without the other, but it seems people are only inconvenienced by the former.

  24. The comment made that the gangs would not have tolerated the conditions at 24th and Mission is very similar to comments made about Las Vegas, both on The Strip and Downtown. There, the mob would never have tolerated what those areas have become.

    But when you allow lawless behavior, like selling obviously stolen goods and dealing drugs openly and justify it on the grounds of being compassionate, this is the result you get. And yet year after year, election after election, people vote for the same people and the same (or worse) policies and are shocked when conditions don’t improve. Einstein’s definition of insanity comes to mind.

    1. Yes, Steve: Everyone should absolutely be sent to jail. That will absolutely help, will definitely not lead to a revolving jail-cell door, and won’t have any other unintended consequences. Good thinking on your part.

      1. Yes, Cynthia, criminals should absolutely be prosecuted (imagine that) and sent to jail. It would absolutely help to NOT have revolving jail-cell doors, thereby punishing habitual criminals, and (surprise!) eliminate unintended consequences like career criminals. Progressive politics have made a cesspool out of 24th & Mission along with the Tenderloin. Good thinking on your part.

        1. Got it. So the prison population, which is already the world’s highest except for, I think, Iran and China, will get a great deal bigger? How many people is too many in prison?

          No, really: how many people should be jailed, and for how long?

    2. Regarding the notion that allowing “lawless behavior” is responsible for the state we are in seems off the mark. Something I noticed when I move to SF in 1979 is that each community (or ghetto of oppressed minorities) was allowed its own lawless behavior. From firecrackers in Chinatown, to the massive stolen hubcab businesses that used to dominate the Mission, to naked people in the Castro, to openly selling drugs and sex trade in the Tenderlion, lawless behavior has ruled in SF. Even the illegal public drinking by techbros in Dolores Park on weekends (before it was made legal) was tolerated, maybe even encouraged, not to mention the littering. I don’t have any answers, but I just want to say that if we are going to crack-down on lawless behavior, SF is going to have to hire about 500 more cops and it needs to be city-wide enforcement, not just 24th and Mission.

  25. The plaza is an absolute disgrace. We have heard many promises over the past few months, but the weeks and months go by and nothing is done to address the situation. Ronen, other city officials, the police, and the otherwise well-meaning community “activists” have all failed us.

  26. It’s a shame that the people of San Francisco don’t realize that their once wonderful city is dying a slow and painful death. You’ve lost employers, employees, conferences, and tourists. Only the most dedicated or unaware go their now and that won’t last much longer. The situation is similar in LA but its sadder to see in San Francisco as far as I’m concerned.

  27. One of the reasons this doesn’t happen in places like “Lafayette Park” is because the residents in the area of said park won’t allow it. The police get bombarded with calls from neighbors to do something about it. In addition, those neighborhoods tend to support the police and don’t have large factions of the population fighting enforcement. In the Mission District, the folks that live in the neighborhood don’t complain as much and there are groups of people/organizations that oppose the police and harsher forms of fixing the problem. As long as the neighbors in mass allow it, it will continue to be a shit show. Unfortunately, the only way this gets fixed is MORE gentrification.

    1. So.. John Thompson… you think its really phone calls that get it done? So all the folks in the Mission and the TL have to do is pick up the phone? Woah, can’t believe no one has thought of that. But.. you don’t think maybe it has anything to do with the amount of wealth in the neighborhoods like Pac Heights and the rest of the north side of town and where a considerable amount of that wealth might be spent and how that money gets access to people with power in city government? And you think the residents of the Mission don’t have the same wants and needs as the Pac Heights folks like safety, security, clean streets/parks, good schools, functional retail districts, well maintained rental housing? Why would any resident of any city not want those things? Are they different because they’re not rich? Are rich people just better citizens simply because of their wealth? Or does, just spit balling here.. does their wealth give them outsized influence which then leads to the creation of protected areas of the city and diversion of resources to those few special individuals so that they don’t have to live with the problems that historically marginalized people deal with? I mean, clearly your suggestion just to move the lower income folks out of the Mission and bring in the gentrifying hordes is the solution we all need. Rich people to the rescue! That’s always worked out for the majority of Americans hasn’t it? I mean, locally at least, we always see a large contingent of Pac Heights residents attending Mission district community meetings with advice on how to get the City to help fix these issues, don’t we? And they come with offers of access to the city officials they’re all buddies with so that they can amplify marginalized voices, right? You know, advocating for the folks that don’t have the resources they do. Because being wealthy just makes you a better citizen. What do we do with these problematic poor people? Hmmm… someone else’s problem?

      Case study of how committed our wealthy neighbors to the north are, Google the name Hamid Moghadam of Prologis Inc. Poor guy had his $250k watch stolen while walking near his home. So he got to work and wrote a letter to the Mayor, Governor, and the entire Board of Supes to complain about how bad crime is. I mean if a guy who makes $30MM/yr and has about $130MM in stock can’t walk safely in Pac Heights.. the City has failed! Something needs to be done immediately. The decades of issues in the TL never bothered him but now that he’s been robbed in Pack Heights it’s time to act! He’s even said he regrets staying here when his company considered moving to Denver and today he would not make the same decision. That’s commitment to your community! Thank you extremely wealthy folks!

  28. We can thank Hillary Ronen and her predecessor, David Campos, for the marvelous state of the neighborhood — and 24th & Mission, in particular.

    Well done!

  29. Joe mentions it only briefly, but this is another consequence of our ongoing irrational hatred of police.

    Most cities would have cleaned up the 24th St/Mission intersection long ago: they would send the police to arrest everyone selling goods illegally, and would keep doing it until the vendors went away.

    I imagine just reading the above sentence is enough to give many San Franciscans an aneurysm. So, on we go in our crime-positive city.

  30. This is not a surprise, nor particularly ironic. It is a predictable result of decades of hollowing out public services and pursuing a brain-dead policy of benign, often malignant, neglect toward the homeless. Meanwhile, the Cartel and its financial backers have flourished. Thank you Dianne Feinstein, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom, Ed Lee and current Garbage Time Queen London Breed.