As the founder of Ocean SF I moved to San Francisco a year ago to dedicate myself to my business. Ocean SF has been a passion project of mine for the past seven years. I fell in love with the sport of sailing and began making clothes to make myself more comfortable on the water. I finally make the decision to move personally to San Francisco last summer. But after one year I did not like what I was seeing here. So, I have had the most stressful six weeks trying to decide if I should stay in San Francisco or leave for good. My lease was up on July 25th and I had already given my notice to vacate. I moved there a year ago with the hope that the city would return to its former vibrant pre-covid state.
Last summer San Francisco was a hopeful place to be. Workers were returning and businesses were opening and things were heading in the right direction. However, by the second quarter of 2023, flagship stores like Nordstrom closed their doors and the Hilton Hotels had gone into foreclosure reinforcing the fear of a doom loop. In May a shoplifter was killed on Market Street a few blocks from where I live and earlier in the year Bob Lee was murdered under the Bay Bridge in a bizarre drug-induced scenario between friends. The Whole Foods closure due to the safety of their customers and employees really sent an alarm through the city and more importantly City Hall.
Ever since the pandemic, the city has become the scary poster child for the Death of American Downtowns. Liberal newspapers and conservative pundits alike love to point to San Francisco as a cautionary tale of how not to run a city, a post-COVID apocalypse. Commercial real estate is a garbage fire; owners of several major hotels have given the keys back to the bank and split. Nobody’s really sure how bad crime is, but it feels worse, and the police may have quiet-quit. It’s not uncommon to see unhoused folks having mental breakdowns amid the outside-dining parklets of ritzy restaurants. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for going on two decades now. It’s not Mad-Max-meets-Omega-Man out here, but it’s bleaker than I’ve ever seen.— Adam Rogers, Insider
Initially, my first reaction was to run when my lease was up. Then, I decided to move to a different neighborhood. I scoured the internet and looked at rentals from Pacific Heights down to the Marina. This at first appeared the best option. I was set on a flat built in 1929 on Jefferson Street one block up from the St Francis Yacht Club where I spend a good deal of my time. This was three days before I was due to move, but right before signing the lease I changed my mind and decided to stay where I was. It was a head-spinning reversal of my thoughts from previous months when I felt anywhere was better than here.
When I contemplated actually moving I had second thoughts because I am really happy here. I have friends here and my business is here. There is something to be said for being happy and having people you enjoy around you. I love my building and all of my neighbors. I have made many friends here. I feel safe and secure here because I have a sense of community.
It is also good for the business that I founded seven years ago appropriately named Ocean SF after this city that I love. I have spaces to work here with my interns. I am across the street from my factory on Jessie Street. I have been working on Ocean SF for seven years and I want to stay and continue the work to make it the successful business I know it can be.
There has been some improvement to the city since it became the poster child of the Doom Loop in the U.S. In recent months London Breed and Gavin Newsom have been working to curtail the problems here and have announced plans to improve the city. It remains to be seen if these plans will make a difference, but I feel the mood of the city has changed for the better. I have noticed there are fewer people sleeping on the streets recently and there are more police present and things have quieted down.
It feels like the progressive agenda is no longer tolerated here because it simply didn’t work.
The former politics around trying to help the homeless created a humanitarian disaster. It seems the city is taking a more conservative approach and making the city viable for businesses to thrive. Reducing crime by enforcing existing laws is a good start.
“There are plenty of laws on the books, and it’d be nice to see some of these damn laws enforced for a change,” said Gavin Newsom in early July according to the Chronicle. It has been rumored that he can’t make a run for the White House unless he cleans up San Francisco. Many believe he will run for President in 2024 or 2028 (Forbes).
Comments From a 20-year Resident
San Francisco has always been a city that the right has distorted for propaganda reasons. They go to the worse neighborhoods and say the whole city is like that. Violent crime is much lower than red state cities, Average salary in San Francisco is $167,663. The city continues to grow.
That being said these last 3 years I am starting to see things I have never seen in my 20 years as a resident. As a property owner I have personally kicked many homeless off my property in the past. People now refuse to leave. There is a sense of aggressiveness and boldness by homeless now. I see tents going up in nice neighborhoods where it was not tolerated.
Now that Chesa Boudin the crazy DA has been recalled and mayor is on board with more prosecution of crimes I hope we can bring SF back.
Otherwise the citizens have had enough and people are starting to take the law in their own hands.
The writer references Bernhard Goetz — who was dubbed the “Subway Vigilante” by New York City’s press who came to symbolize New Yorkers’ frustrations with the high crime rates of the 1980s. The incident has also been cited as a contributing factor to the movement against urban crime and disorder. We are seeing similar crime and drug problems in most urban U.S. cities now and people are demanding change.
When I was 25 years old I moved to San Francisco and worked for Bank of America in their corporate offices. It was here that I learned the skills and made the connections that would make me successful. I believe the youth of today deserve the same and that we should take our cities back and not leave them to decay as we all flee to the suburbs. Then later when I started sailing I joined the Race Committee at the Saint Francis Yacht Club a place that feels like a second home to me. I am taking a stand and staying in the city that I have always loved.
There are some decisions that are extremely impactful to our lives and as I enter this next chapter I hope I have made the right choice. It was not easy, but I am doubling down and staying. Please send me good wishes for a safe and happy year.