”Politics has become infused with narcissism in America.”— John Oliver
Here’s a short video of San Francisco released on TikTok last week:
Here are the same Tenderloin district streets today.
What’s the difference?
The Chinese president Xi Jinping is in town for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference meeting in San Francisco for the next couple of days.
In the early 2000s, we remember San Francisco fondly. We held the Agora Financial symposium at the Fairmont downtown for several years, before moving the venue to Vancouver B.C.
Among the marquee activities we’d promote included Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf… a carefree walk through the Embarcadero… catch a trolley over to historic Haight-Ashbury for a bit of nostalgia over the Grateful Dead and Stanley Mouse art…
Uhh, what happened?
Post-pandemic, downtown San Francisco is experiencing its worst office vacancy crisis on record, with 31% of space available for lease or sublease.
According to the San Francisco Chronicler, AT&T, Banana Republic and First Republic are among the most notable retail closures downtown. Starbucks, Target and CVS closed stores in October.
In August, Westfield gave up its San Francisco mall to lenders after Nordstrom announced its departure, which left the mall only 55% leased.
The buildings are now dirty and empty. The streets are filthy. Trash is everywhere, piled up so high that towers of refuse are tipping over.
Drug use runs rampant among the homeless that you literally have to navigate through prone bodies and vagrants smoking crack and meth on the sidewalks in the middle of the day.
But as of this morning, with the Chinese president Xi’s arrival, all the dealers and addicts are gone, and the streets are spotless. Huh?
The Free Press, published by a group of local activists who have been on the ground covering San Francisco’s open air drug markets, decline of civil society and lamenting their home’s future, are perplexed by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s response when asked:
“I know folks say, ‘Oh, they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming into town.’ That’s true, because it’s true.”
If Mr. Newsom’s response isn’t public acceptance of The Great American Shell Game… well, you can finish that sentence.
Newsom is also on the short list for candidates to replace president Biden in the 2024 election, if the party succumbs to recent polls and decides it needs a better showing a year from now.
Writing from Baltimore, we can say with confidence San Francisco is not the only urban area dealing with open air drug markets, rising crime and lawlessness. But we’re still wondering what if events on the ground in California become national policy?
Governor Newsom was Mayor of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011.
P.S. Something’s gotta give. In the meantime, we are doing our part. We’re mining the details and working behind the scenes to provide alternatives for individual investors who want to avoid the chaos. You can take a look right here.
P.P.S. China has a zero tolerance stance on fentanyl. Still they legally produce the raw materials that are then processed in Mexico and smuggled into the US.
Wouldn’t it be better to show Xi what a mess he’s helping maintain on the streets of San Francisco? Press releases from the APEC conference say the fentanyl crisis is on the agenda.