When I think of San Francisco I think of the hilly terrain, beautiful views and a bustling metropolitan area. That is the memory I have of my last visit to that city several years ago…maybe a decade or a little more…and I was shocked to read of those same streets in a report put together by KNTV, the local television station, recently.
The KNTV reporters referred to the “diseased streets” they found in the city proper. This was the downtown area encompassing about 153 city blocks. They found the area littered with garbage including 100 drug needles and 300 piles of human feces. An infectious disease expert cautioned that used needles can cause viral diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis, and also discussed the piles of human feces releasing airborne viruses such as rotavirus which causes human diarrhea or worse.
Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert from UC-Berkeley believes that parts of San Francisco may be worse than the world’s dirtiest slums. He is quoted as saying “The contamination is much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India” and he added that in those countries the residents work to try to maintain their residences but here that is not happening since the homeless are rousted frequently. They leave their mess behind obviously because they do not have the means nor the desire to do anything about that mess.
For all our accumulated wisdom, we seem to have not become wise enough to solve basic issues such as this; we are producing more and more drug-dependent people, likely losing some of what might’ve been the best and brightest in that group who became addicted and fell between the cracks from that time until they OD’d and were carted off to be incinerated to ashes.
A pre-school teacher said that she and her students “see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash.” This is not conducive to raising and educating the next generation. These children are growing up in an environment that would appear to them to condone the use of drugs since they see it all around them. They are growing up in a liberal city with a liberal worldview. They are watching the adults they seek to become apparently ignore such issues since the issues continue to fester and grow in magnitude. What do we expect of them when these are their early childhood memories?
The financial cost is growing. Removing one pile of human feces takes a half-hour because the “steamer has to come. He has to park the steamer. he’s got to come out with his steamer, disinfect, steam clean, roll up and go”. That process cost San Francisco about $30 Million in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
This is one of the shining lights on the Left Coast. This is a liberal haven that likes to be permissive of people’s various inclinations apparently including the use of heroin and obviously, other such drugs, gateway drugs, or this would not be a growing problem such as it obviously is. Yet where is the city government? Where is the state government? It seems those entities are more concerned with where the tax dollars will come from for the daily clean-up and the sequestering of addicts than for the fight to end the addiction.
Easier said than done? Certainly, that is true, but there is no “done” in sight given the current approach and the current system. There is only finding the new answers to where the additional clean-up money is to come from since it isn’t going to come from those who are the problem. The answer obviously is to stop the flow of drugs and to vigorously enforce the laws already on the books.
I wonder what the situation would be today had there been a solid conservative city government in a solidly conservative state? Would the majority have taken this seriously earlier and gotten its hands around the neck of the users and their suppliers? I’d wager that there would be stronger enforcement efforts than have been seen. I’d wager that those using and those supplying would’ve been taken to task far earlier, instead of simply being tolerated and corralled in certain areas that are known to residents to be places to avoid if you don’t want to see where your society is headed.
These kinds of issues are difficult enough to manage and to ultimately eliminate without having to make that happen in a liberal political world. Those of us in the Midwest can look at Chicago or Milwaukee for the reminder that this is not just a San Francisco kind of issue. There is a kind of tough love in the heads of conservatives that forces us to face the problems of the day and to resolve those problems. We’re not perfect but neither do we ignore human issues such as these by keeping them out-of-the-public-eye.