San Francisco used to be a great place to live
I should know; I lived there for about 20 years. It truly is, as the Village People said, a city known for its freedom — a city where the constraining effects of too great an emphasis on morality has never taken much hold. Whatever lifestyle you craved, you can probably find it in abundance in San Francisco.
Don’t own a small business in San Francisco
But it’s changed. Because of the pandemic, and because of the fact that San Francisco is a tech-oriented city, many workers were sent home to work remotely. The lockdown led to many restaurants and other service establishments being closed temporarily; but the owners of those establishments still had to pay their monthly expenses like rent and electricity. Many were able to borrow money to pay those expenses; but each loan boosts the amount owed — until the amount owed became the same as the value of the owner’s investment. That means, when the lockdown was finally lifted, many of these owners found they had nothing left, and walked away with nothing.
And the small landlord didn’t fare much better — with tenants protected from eviction by the eviction moratorium, many simply stopped paying rent — even those who still had jobs and could pay. The “mom and pop” groups renting out that spare room or apartment started slowly going broke. In theory, the tenants were supposed to pay their back rent once the moratorium was over; but even then it was obvious to me that many would just move to another apartment and escape their liability. But maybe they don’t have to move: the mayor there declared that “no tenant may be evicted for non-payment of rent that became due between March 16, 2020 and September 30, 2020” — permanently.
And the crime rate is increasing fast. The threshhold for grand theft (a felony) is $950; anything less than that is petty theft (a misdemeanor, which has a lesser punishment if proven). By raising that threshhold, many felonies became misdemeanors, which made crime more attractive to those so inclined. Many stores have had gangs charge in in broad daylight, grab what they can, and run. Employees are discouraged from doing anything to interfere with the criminals; some have been fired for daring to make a stand. The police appear to be helpless.
Stores and hotels
The San Francisco Reparations Task Force has concluded that Black San Franciscans suffered under slavery – Jim Crow – segregation – and the current situation and are due millions of dollars each in reparations. I don’t see how any city can afford this. Will San Francisco have to double or even triple their tax rate? California taxes are already very high.
At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, if something is due to you and you die before you can collect, the money owed can pass to your heirs. But if something is due from you, that doesn’t pass down — in other words, there can be no such thing as inherited debt.
I remember the premier episode of Star Trek — The Next Generation where Capt. Jean-Luc Picard said “the U.N. has decided that no one is responsible for the actions of their race or ancestors”. I heartily agreed with that. (In fact, I would add “or government” to it.)
Get out while you can
All of the above is encouraging people to move out while they still can. Property values are going down fast. I predict that once San Francisco becomes totally undesireable, the “fat cats” will start buying up everything. Then all the changes that have been happening will be reversed, and things will go back to normal. Except the billionaires and conglomerates will own everything.
And if you try to call them on it, they will just dismiss it with, “but we had a pandemic!”