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Why Is San Francisco Nearly The Most Criminally Infested City In The United States?

Who'd have guessed that San Francisco would have double the crime rate as Compton, which is still a major cocaine trafficking hub?

San Franciscans face about a 1-in-16 chance each year of being a victim of property or violent crime, which makes the city more dangerous than 98 percent of US cities, both small and large. To put this in perspective, Compton, California, the infamous home of drug gang turf wars, and which today remains more dangerous than 90 percent of all US cities, is almost twice as safe as San Francisco.

Who'd have guessed that San Francisco would have double the crime rate as Compton, which is still a major cocaine trafficking hub? This seeming impossible occurs when local government fails catastrophically on nearly every major metric. Welcome to San Francisco's crime scene, where you'll learn why it's so horrible and why it won't get any better.

It's crucial to remember that evaluating crime data is challenging since certain crimes are concentrated in a few neighborhoods while many others are safe; and some crimes are trivial, such as minor property offenses, while others are horrendous, such as violent crime. However, acknowledging these difficulties with interpretation does not change the fact that San Francisco is a hazardous city. Consider Presidio Heights, which is perhaps the most expensive zip code in the country.

Presidio Heights is the chichi neighborhood that is home to Nancy Pelosi, best-selling novelist Danielle Steele, and several members of the Getty family, who funded some of Governor Gavin Newsom’s private businesses.

How expensive? Well, first check out what $2.5 buys you. That is $2.5 million, of course. As the brokers say, if you don’t know that, then don’t bother them. But we can still be online lookie-loos. Take a gander.

This house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and is around 1,600 square feet. There is no listing for lot square footage, but given that this two-story property shares external walls with its neighbors (including what looks to be a commercial structure on one side), I'm assuming you'd only have approximately 1,000 square feet of terra firma to work with. Views? At $2.5 million, don't hold your breath for the Golden Gate. When you look out the windows, though, you will notice a lot of your neighbors. Backyard? Don't hold your breath for one. Just be grateful that you get to live in Presidio Heights for $2.5 a month.

And it turns out, while over-the-top wealth can buy you many things, it doesn’t buy a safe neighborhood. The incidence of violent crime is still more than twice as high in Presidio Heights as the US average. It is also high compared to other tony California neighborhoods, such as Montecito, California, part-time home of Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, where the likelihood of assault and robbery is about one-third as low as in Presidio Heights.

Similarly, while Presidio Heights receives an overall score of “C” for crime from another neighborhood evaluation study, Montecito receives an “A+”, and Bel Air and Pacific Palisades, two of the most expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles, receive grades of A+ and A-, respectively. 

San Francisco's unacceptably high crime rate is ostensibly a result of the city's decision, which is all the more astonishing given that the city spends approximately $14,000 per San Franciscan per year on government services, or 40% more than New York City's extravagant budget.

One significant flaw is a police force that is far too small. New York has roughly twice the number of police officers per capita as San Francisco, and it is a far safer city. Another significant flaw is a sour relationship between the police and the city's district attorney, Chesa Boudin, a progressive prosecutor who some believe still has the attitude of his days as a public defense in San Francisco. Boudin is significant because he is the son of a mother and father who were both convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of two police officers during a Brinks truck heist 40 years ago.

This didn’t get Boudin and the police off to the best start, and their relationship has gone further south, with Boudin criticizing police for not clearing more crimes. Boudin himself has been widely criticized for failing to prosecute obvious cases, including a person who had been arrested multiple times over the previous year, who had a history of felony convictions, and who ultimately killed two women while driving a stolen car after drinking and using methamphetamine.

Boudin chose not to prosecute, and forwarded the case to the parole department. The charges? Two counts of voluntary manslaughter, possession of a stolen vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident, burglary, driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driving while addicted to drugs, possessing a gun and a large-capacity ammunition magazine, and violating the terms of parole. He had also been arrested just prior to the crash on charges including possession of methamphetamine and car theft.

Boudin defended his decision by indicating that the parole department would have a much better chance at stopping the cycle of crime for these types of individuals: “We evaluated the facts, the strength of the case and the charges, and decided it was more likely that he would be held accountable through parole.”

Even after the two ladies were killed, Boudin refused to admit that he had made a mistake by not prosecuting the driver. Instead, he concentrated on reforming the parole system to guarantee that convicts were given the "supervision and structure" they need. Really? I'm curious how the relatives of the two victims that were killed felt about this.

It's also worth noting that there was a drug problem involved, which is the 800-pound elephant in the room. Politicians in San Francisco have opted to embrace drug usage in the city, as well as the violence, mental illness, and homelessness that come with it. And it's not only that drug usage isn't tolerated. Drug usage is aided by giving clean needles to users, resulting in old hypodermic needles being discarded all over the place, and by enabling numerous neighborhoods to function as de facto open-air drug marketplaces. And drug users and dealers have flocked to San Francisco, primarily because they believe their activities are legal.

In the city, there are currently much more drug users than high school pupils. Approximately 1,000 addicts will die this year as a result of an overdose, and more than 1,000 new users will almost probably replace them. Unfortunately, none of this will change unless San Franciscans demand it. I'm not sure when it will happen if it hasn't already.

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