California Politicians Point Fingers as Tolerance of Homelessness Wears Thin

Many political promises have been made, many billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent and many programs have been launched, but the state’s homelessness crisis continues to worsen and Californians’ tolerance has worn thin.

A few months ago, the Public Policy Institute of California took the public’s temperature on the issue and found that overwhelming majorities of the state’s adults want something done, pronto. It’s one of the few major issues that bridges the state’s otherwise wide partisan divide.

“Things have shifted, and everybody’s jobs are on the damn line, and they should be,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told a Dreamforce conference in San Francisco last week. “We’re only interested in real results, and that’s our commitment to all of you.”

Underscoring the situation’s fraught politics, Newsom has denounced a federal magistrate who blocked San Francisco’s plans to clean up squalid encampments, pledged that the state will intervene in the case and expressed hope that a very conservative U.S. Supreme Court might lift the ban.

“That’s a hell of a statement coming from a progressive Democrat from California that says we need help from the Supreme Court,” Newsom said during his Dreamforce interview.

Newsom said that during an unannounced visit to San Francisco – a city he once governed as mayor – he saw a disgusting level of drug abuse near a city police station.

“People aren’t giving a damn that any of us are there,” he said. “They were dealing, were using, were abusing, and there was a police department substation, and it was all happening across the street. All I thought was, how damn demoralized everybody must be. There go all our tax dollars and who the hell is running this place?”

Who indeed?

The social and political angst in San Francisco over how to do something effective about homelessness is not confined to that city. There are at least 170,000 people living on the streets in California and every large city faces its version of the syndrome.

Karen Bass was elected mayor of Los Angeles on her pledge to clean up its streets but has only been able to tinker at the margins, while the numbers of the unhoused have continued to climb.

The sidewalks of Sacramento near the state Capitol are packed with encampments of homeless men and women, sparking a sharp clash between the city’s mayor, former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, and Sacramento County’s newly elected district attorney, Thien Ho.

For weeks, Ho issued public denunciations of city officials for, he said, failing to enforce anti-camping laws and at one point even threatened to issue criminal charges against them.

Last week, Ho filed a civil lawsuit against the city, alleging its inaction is creating a public nuisance. A companion suit was filed by a coalition of city residents and business owners.

“Enough is enough,” Ho told The Sacramento Bee. “We need to address this public safety crisis for both the housed and the unhoused.”

The 36-page lawsuit describes Sacramento as a once-thriving city that faces “descent into decay and this utter collapse into chaos,” threatening both housed and unhoused residents.

“The frustration that members of our community feel is absolutely justified,” Steinberg said in a statement, defending steps the city has taken to deal with the issue, and criticizing Ho’s intervention.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Transgender Rights Activists Protest Women’s Liberation Group Convention in SF

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — There was a heated protest Saturday in San Francisco where opinions clashed over the issue of Transgender rights.

At the demonstration, outside a hotel where a women’s rights group is holding its convention, protesters say the organization is anti-Trans rights.

“What do we want? Trans justice. When do we want it? Now,” protesters chanted.

A group of demonstrators protested outside the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco’s Financial District, where Women’s Declaration International USA is holding its convention. “WDI” says it’s focused on reigniting the Women’s Liberation Movement, but critics say that’s misleading.

MORE: Chaos at Sunol Glen school board meeting as district votes to ban pride flags

“Their group is what we call ‘TERFs,’ Trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” said Nancy Kato from Reproductive Justice Coalition.

Activist Kato says she believes WDI’s mission is anti-Trans.

“Their basic premise is patriarchy and men are the enemy and therefore focused on Trans women, to say they are not real women,” Kato.

“I’m so happy to see so many people standing in solidarity with the Trans community,” said Honey Mahogany.

MORE: Judge issues temporary restraining order over Chino school board policy on transgender notification

Honey Mahogany, chair of San Francisco’s Democatic Party says WDI is contributing to the spread of misinformation.

“Ultimately, what I’m here to fight today is the misinformation about my community. We are people who have always existed, always been a part of society,” Mahogany said.

Police intervened when several counter protesters attending the women’s conference showed up, including Corrina D’Annible.

“What specific rights are Trans-identified individuals asking for that they don’t already have to begin with? So if we’re talking about the right for males to invade women’s spaces, like I said, the history of male violence is long and storied,” D’Annible said.

MORE: ‘Experience Queer Joy’: SF Pride Parade showcases unity, inclusion and visibility

WDI conference organizers declined an on-camera interview but told us in a statement they do not support counter protesters.

The WDI’S statement went on to say: “We are enjoying our discussions about the rights, privacy and safety of women and girls, including reproductive liberty and the rights of lesbian and bisexual women.”

Protesters called out the Hilton for hosting the conference.

In response, Hotel management told ABC7 News, “As a place of hospitality, the Hilton San Francisco Financial District Hotel strives to serve as a welcoming place for all and does not adopt or endorse the views of any individuals or groups we serve.”

WDI says it’s planning its own rally Monday at San Francisco City Hall. Protesters say they’ll be there.

“San Francisco and the Bay Area, there’s a lot of people who believe the need to build inclusive movements, not exclusive ones,” Kato said.

Click here to read the full article at ABC 7 News

Geriatric Congress: Nancy Pelosi, 83, Announces She is Running AGAIN

Senior members of Congress hold some of the most important committee positions, yet probably can’t tell you what they ate for breakfast

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Twitter Friday she is running for reelection. Pelosi, who was born in 1940 and is now 83, will be 86 at the end of her next term in Congress.

In the summer of 1940, France had just fallen to the Nazis and Britain was fighting for survival. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt began to prepare America for war.

Now, 83 years later, Nancy Pelosi, who if she was an airline pilot, would have been required to retire at age 65 – in 2005 – and perhaps like an aging airline pilot, has only gotten more dangerous after age 65.

“Now more than ever our City needs us to advance San Francisco values and further our recovery. Our country needs America to show the world that our flag is still there, with liberty and justice for ALL. That is why I am running for reelection — and respectfully ask for your vote. -Nancy”

Is Pelosi talking about the San Francisco values that have rendered her city a crime-laden hell hole? According to a new Gallup poll released lagte August, one-half of Americans view San Francisco as unsafe. And it’s probably worse than their perception.

Another report in August found that San Francisco has had the worst recovery of any city from the pandemic. I know – show me your SHOCKED face.

Is that the City whose values Pelosi touts, where drug addicted street vagrants drop their pants to poop on the street? Maybe Nancy would like to step out of her chauffeured limousine and take a stroll along San Francisco streets as detailed in the official “defecation map.” Or visit the empty shells of the sumptuous retail establishments, boutiques and high end markets she used to frequent. Or try to pick up a prescription at a San Francisco Walgreens… (Are all of them gone now?)

Pelosi has serious insider trading accusations to deal with, leading many to assume she, as with the other elderly members of the House and Senate (Feinstein, McConnell), stick around to manage their dubious dealings. Could they really want to die while in office otherwise?

As I reported in 2021, if the more elderly members of Congress ran for local political offices instead – City Council and County Supervisor seats – they likely would not be elected as local voters would recognize that they had reached an age where they should retire, save for a few vibrant and relevant ones. But tucked away safely in Washington D.C., away from local prying eyes and local scrutiny, these incumbents continue to be reelected.

While most Americans are looking to retire as they near age 65 or 70, it appears members of Congress are just getting warmed up as they age. They’ve been in office so many years, their special interest funders need them to remain. And that is the real priority – special interests, rather than constituents, particularly for members in office for decades.

This is clearly becoming a serious issue. And it’s not a Republican or Democrat thing – it’s an issue in both political parties. These Senior members of Congress hold some of the most important committee positions, yet some probably can’t tell you what they ate for breakfast. They deal with (rather, their senior staff deal with) national security, defense and the military, appropriations, homeland security, judiciary, and are privy to national secrets.

With 90-year old U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) reportedly having very public cognitive issues, this is a serious situation. Who is Feinstein’s handler, because surely she has one? Who finishes her sentences for her? Who whispers answers in her ear? Who directs her to the next meeting? Who prepares cheat sheets of notes for her? Who runs interference for Feinstein with the media?

Perhaps most important, who made her 20-year Chinese spy staffer problem go away? How is it that no one in Congress demanded an investigation into her office? Did Nancy or Mitch have anything to do with that?

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) certainly has her own age-related issues, despite some of the best medical care in the world, and an obviously skilled plastic surgeon. As Speaker prior to losing the House to Republicans, to call Pelosi awkward during television interviews was an understatement. She slurred her words, appeared unable to coherently finish a sentence, made weird jerky movements with her hands, and still does that funny thing with her lips over her teeth.

Pelosi loses her temper very quickly when asked a real question, similar to President Joe Biden’s reaction. Pelosi was a very attractive woman for many years, and likely would still be, naturally, if she hadn’t messed with Mother Nature. We all age – there is no cheating the aging process.

And what about Pelosi husband Paul’s DUI misadventure in Napa? Immediately following the odd calamity, Nancy Pelosi’s PR team issued a terse statement: “The Speaker will not be commenting on this private matter which occurred while she was on the East Coast.”

Or what about when Paul Pelosi was assaulted by a man armed with a hammer during a home break-in in San Francisco later that year? Police arrested the suspect and Pelosi was rushed to the hospital. Many people questioned the very odd circumstances between the attacker and Pelosi – none of which was ever concluded publicly… perhaps appropriately.

Shouldn’t the Pelosi’s be enjoying travel, grandkids, their Napa winery, their circle of friends, their “Golden Years,” and writing books about their fascinating lives?

As we previously reported:

The U.S. House of Representatives, with a total of 435 members from 50 states, has 10 members 80 and older.

The U.S. House of Representatives has 21 members between age 75 and 80.

The U.S. House of Representatives has 108 members between ages 65 and 74.

The U.S. Senate, with 101 members from 50 states, has 7 members 80 and older.

The U.S. Senate has 22 members between the ages of 65 and 70, and 21 members between the ages of 70 and 79.

Remember the Washington D.C. pharmacist who said in 2017 that he fills a surprising amount of Alzheimer’s prescriptions for various members of Congress? While it would be good to know who those congressional members were, most of us can take reasonably educated guesses…

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

S.F. Bakery Won’t Serve Cops, Police Union Claims. Store Says It’s About the Guns, Not the Cops

San Francisco’s police union says a city bakery chain has a “bigoted” policy of not serving uniformed cops.

The San Francisco Police Officers Assn. wrote in a social media post last week that Reem’s California “will not serve anyone armed and in uniform” and that includes “members of the U.S. Military.” The union is demanding that the chain “own” its policy.

Reem’s says, however, its policy isn’t against serving armed police officers. It’s against allowing guns inside its businesses.

The union tweeted: “We are not asking Reem’s or any business with a bigoted policy to serve our officers. We’re asking them to own their discriminatory policy & and put up a sign so we know not to spend money in your establishment — on or off duty.”

Reem’s said in a statement to SFGate that its policy is to keep its employees safe by keeping guns outside of its businesses.

“Reem’s has a deep commitment to uplifting social and racial justice in our communities,” the statement said. “This includes fostering an environment of safety for our staff and customers. In a time of increased gun violence — particularly impacting people of color, youth, and queer people — we believe that maintaining a strict policy of prohibiting guns in our restaurant keeps us safer.”

The restaurant chain and the union didn’t immediately respond to The Times’ requests for comment.

The president of the union, Tracy McCray, disputed Reem’s statement in an email to SFGATE, writing that the bakery prohibited people “armed in a uniform.”

“That is not our interpretation of their policy. That is exactly what they said their policy was. That is what their employee told our officer,” McCray wrote. “And this is our point, if you’re going to have policies that discriminate against one group of people, then own it, post it publicly, and let your potential customers make the decision that best reflects their values.”

There have been other incidents in recent years when a San Francisco business has denied service to armed police officers.

Earlier this year, an employee at Pizza Squared in San Francisco told multiple police officers they weren’t welcome at the pizza shop, according to a statement from the business on Twitter. The cashier was fired; the store told him he was “out of line.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Crime is So Bad Near S.F. Federal Building Employees are Told to Work From Home, Officials Said

Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advised hundreds of employees in San Francisco to work remotely for the foreseeable future due to public safety concerns outside the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building on Seventh Street. 

The imposing, 18-story tower on the corner of Seventh and Mission streets houses various federal agencies, including HHS, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the office of Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi. The area is also home to one of the city’s most brazen open-air drug markets, where dozens of dealers and users congregate on a daily basis. 

HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration Cheryl R. Campbell issued the stay-home recommendation in an Aug. 4 memo to regional leaders.

“In light of the conditions at the (Federal Building) we recommend employees … maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future,” Campbell wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Chronicle. 

“This recommendation should be extended to all Region IX employees, including those not currently utilizing telework flexibilities,” Campbell wrote, referring to the federal government zone that includes California and other Western states.

The memo came on the same day that, according to Axios, President Biden’s White House chief of staff called for more federal employees to return to their offices after years of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It was not immediately clear whether other tenants in the building had issued similar directives. Officials with Pelosi’s office and the Department of Labor said they have been working closely with local and federal law enforcement to ensure safety for their staffers, but they have not advised employees to work from home. 

The building has long been a locus of some of the city’s most intractable problems. 

Dozens of dealers routinely plant themselves on, next to or across the street from the property, operating in shifts as users smoke, snort or shoot up their recent purchases. The property’s concrete benches are an especially popular site for users to get high, socialize or pass out. 

While Pelosi’s five-person staff was not advised to work remotely, she raised concerns about the building’s tenant safety last week in a meeting with the U.S. attorney for the northern district of California, according to officials with her office. 

“The safety of workers in our federal buildings has always been a priority for Speaker Emerita Pelosi, whether in the building or on their commutes,” Pelosi spokesperson Aaron Bennett said in a statement. 

“Federal, state and local law enforcement — in coordination with public health officials and stakeholders — are working hard to address the acute crises of fentanyl trafficking and related violence in certain areas of the city.”

Pelosi recently secured more federal law enforcement assistance in cracking down on the city’s fentanyl crisis in the Tenderloin and SoMa areas. San Francisco is one of the cities included in a federal program called Operation Overdrive, which targets drug traffickers in areas with the highest levels of drug-related violence and overdoses. 

The Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building is maintained by the federal General Services Administration, and policing is handled by Federal Protective Services. 

Richard Stebbins, a public affairs officer for GSA, said the agency coordinates with San Francisco police to enhance safety outside of the building, which includes routine patrols and camera systems around the perimeter of the building. 

“The building is a safe and secure space for federal employees and the visiting public,” Stebbins said in an email to the Chronicle. “There are a number of security controls GSA employs to make sure the building is safe including Federal Protective Services officers at the building and secure checkpoints.”

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Federal Protective Service, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

But a tenant of the building familiar with recent decisions said the agency and GSA have recently implemented a number of new security measures to address safety concerns. This included pulling FPS personnel from other nearby properties for additional security, a pending vote on funds for an additional “roving” guard dedicated to the property, and creating a “BART Buddies” program that has escorts on call from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to walk employees to and from BART. 

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Lacking U.S. Citizenship, These San Francisco Parents Are Excited To Vote Again

A court ruling has restored the right of noncitizen San Francisco parents to vote in local school board elections, giving them a say in their children’s education and reopening the door to a key democratic right previously only granted to U.S. citizens.

In 2018, San Francisco began to allow noncitizen parents or guardians with at least one minor child living in the city to vote in the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education elections.

However, after a few elections with a relatively small number of noncitizen participants, legal challenges ensued. A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled the practice unconstitutional in 2022. The city appealed the ruling immediately.

A year later, the First District Court of Appeal sided with the city.

“Neither the plain language of the Constitution nor its history prohibits legislation expanding the electorate to noncitizens,” Justice Mark Simons wrote in the decision. “The relevant constitutional provisions authorizing home rule permit charter cities to implement such an expansion in local school board elections.”

Thrilled To Vote Again

Many noncitizen parents who voted in local school board elections before are excited about the news.

Amos Lim, a gay father originally from Singapore, said he’s relieved to see this latest ruling, especially since the new school year is starting soon. His child is about to begin the 10th grade.

“I hope this ruling will encourage more immigrant parents to vote,” Lim told The Standard. “Having a voice at the ballot box to decide the educational goals for my daughter is very important to me.”

The next school board election is scheduled for November 2024.

“We are public school parents,” said Angela Zhou, an immigrant from China and an activist during the 2022 school board recall. “Even though we are not U.S. citizens, we should not be silenced.”

As Zhou’s son will attend 12th grade at Galileo High School this coming school year, he will have graduated before the November 2024 school board election, meaning his parents will not be eligible to vote But Zhou’s still excited because many other Chinese American parents can weigh in.

Another well-known noncitizen parent is Siva Raj, an Indian immigrant who founded the school board recall campaign in 2022. He also voted for the first time last year after moving to the U.S. for more than a decade. Raj told The Standard that he’s glad to see the new ruling and “totally will vote again” next year.

China, Singapore and India do not recognize dual citizenship, which prompts many immigrants to remain green card holders in the U.S. instead of acquiring U.S. citizenship. Except for permanent residents, other noncitizens include visa holders, refugees and undocumented immigrants.

James Lacy, an attorney and conservative author from Orange County, is the leader behind the lawsuit that aims to overturn noncitizen voting.

In a statement to The Standard, he said the latest ruling denigrates the integrity of elections by devaluing citizenship as the key qualification for voting. He made an example saying foreign diplomats, like Chinese consulate staff members living in San Francisco, could be qualified to vote in local school board elections based on the ruling.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Standard

San Francisco Can Allow Noncitizen Voting in School Board Races, Court Rules

Noncitizen parents in San Francisco have a right to vote in local school board elections under a ballot measure approved by the city’s voters in 2016, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday. The ruling would also apply to a similar measure in Oakland endorsed by voters last November.

San Francisco’s Proposition N, the first such measure in the state, was approved by 54% of the voters in 2016 and took effect in 2018. It was ruled invalid in July 2022, however, by Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer, based on a provision of the state Constitution declaring that “a United States citizen 18 years of age and resident in this State may vote.” Ulmer said the language prohibited state and local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote.

But the First District Court of Appeal said Tuesday that the “may vote” language did not restrict the authority of state or local governments — particularly charter cities like San Francisco, which have substantial powers of self-government — to expand voting rights. The court, following standard legal procedures, had put Ulmer’s ruling on hold and allowed noncitizen parents to vote in November’s election. 

“The history of home rule in the California Constitution demonstrates an intent to confer broad authority on charter cities over municipal affairs,” Justice Mark Simons wrote in the 3-0 ruling. “It makes sense to confer on charter cities the authority to expand the electorate where, as here, the city’s voters determine that doing so would better serve local needs.”

California’s 125 charter cities also include Oakland, where 66% of the voters approved Measure S in November, authorizing the City Council to approve voting by noncitizen parents or guardians in school elections.  

Tuesday’s ruling is “a wonderful victory for immigrant parents, who can continue to exercise their right to vote in San Francisco school board elections,” City Attorney David Chiu said in a statement. “When more parents have a voice in the direction of our schools, it leads to better outcomes for all students and communities.”

Both measures are being challenged by the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative nonprofit. Its founder attorney James Lacy, said Tuesday his organization might appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court but was more interested in raising the issue in federal court with arguments that noncitizen voting dilutes the votes of U.S. citizens.

“I can’t imagine that the founders of our Constitution expected that employees of the Chinese embassy in San Francisco … would have an equal right to vote with the citizens of San Francisco on the school board,” Lacy said. In the meantime, he said, his group will sue any other city in California that allows noncitizen voting.

In response to the vote-dilution argument, the appeals court said San Francisco voters “could reasonably find that extending the franchise to noncitizen parents or guardians of school-age children will increase parental involvement in schools, which will in turn improve educational outcomes.”

Tuesday’s ruling, if it becomes final, will be binding on all Superior Courts in the state, although other appellate courts could reach different conclusions.

Lacy’s organization also argued that the state Supreme Court had disapproved of noncitizen voting in a unanimous 1898 ruling overturning a state law that would have expanded voting rights. The court said state lawmakers were attempting to extend voting rights “to certain classes of citizens outside of those classes mentioned in the constitution. If the legislature has such power, it could extend the right to aliens, to minors, to women. It has no such power.” 

That language, including its reference to “aliens,” “reflects neither a thorough analysis nor compelling logic” and does not apply to the current case, the appeals court said.

Simons also noted that a 1926 amendment to the state Constitution, repealed in 1972, prohibited the Legislature from granting voting rights to noncitizens, such as Chinese immigrants, who were then ineligible to become U.S. citizens.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

DA Won’t File Charges Now Against Pair Accused in S.F. Carjacking, Dramatic Crash

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said Friday that the pair accused of stealing a car and driving it over a set of steps in the Castro district last weekend will not face charges at this time

Kevin Nelson, 36, and Jennifer Bonham, 31, both of San Francisco, were arrested Tuesday afternoon on the 1400 block of Pine Street, after police investigated the dramatic crash, a video of which was widely circulated online. Authorities never elaborated on how their investigation led them to Nelson and Bonham. 

“The charges against Ms. Bonham and Mr. Nelson have been discharged at this time pending further investigation and witness availability. Anyone with information is asked to call the San Francisco Police Department tip line at 415-575-4444,” a statement from the District Attorney’s Office said. The DA could still file charges at a later date. 

Neither Nelson nor Bonham were listed as being in custody Friday, according to San Francisco jail records. 

San Francisco police responded to the scene Saturday after reports of a solo car crash at 19th and Sanchez streets. Officers found the crashed car upside down, but all of the occupants fled the scene, police said. City officials previously said there were perhaps as many as five people in the car when it crashed, some of whom may have been minors. 

Nelson was hospitalized for injuries he sustained during the crash, according to police. 

Click here to read the full article in SF Chronicle

Brother of SF Mayor Breed Gets Sentence Reduced for Role in Girlfriend’s 2000 Death

SAN FRANCISCO — The brother of San Francisco’s mayor was resentenced to a shorter prison term Monday for his role in the 2000 death of his girlfriend as she drove a getaway car on the Golden Gate Bridge following a robbery.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy reduced Napoleon Brown’s sentence from 44 years to just over 31 for involuntary manslaughter, armed robbery and carjacking, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

RELATED: SF Mayor Breed’s brother takes step closer to early prison release

In 2018, Mayor London Breed sent outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown a letter urging him to show leniency and commute her older brother’s prison sentence. She referenced her position as mayor in the letter, and the stationery read “Mayor London Breed” at the top. He did not respond.

Marc Zilversmit, Napoleon Brown’s attorney, said they are pleased the judge agreed to a reduction but they had asked for an even shorter sentence. Brown has served nearly 22 years in prison, according to Zilversmit.

“There are mixed emotions,” he said.

RELATED: San Francisco Mayor London Breed asks for brother’s early prison release

The mayor’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Click here to read the full article in ABC 7

SF Walgreens Puts Chains on Freezers as Shoplifters Target Store 20 Times a Day, Employee Says

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Shoplifting continues to be an issue for stores across San Francisco.

Shoplifting crimes increased by 20% in San Francisco from pre-pandemic stats in 2019 to 2022, according to the state department of justice.

Now, a Walgreens in the city’s Richmond District is locking its freezers with chains in response.

ABC7 News reporter Luz Pena went to the Richmond District to see it first hand and spoke to workers and business owners in the area.

It didn’t take long. Within the first hour of being at Walgreens on Geary Boulevard at 17th Avenue in San Francisco, we witnessed multiple shoplifters.

One of them even took the time to explain why he simply didn’t pay: “It’s San Francisco, Bro.”

Off camera a Walgreens employee told me they are hit 15 to 20 times a day. Out of frustration a week and a half ago they decided to chain up their freezer section.

The freezers are one of the hardest hit aisles in their store. Now, when you want something you have to press a button. A message goes off on the overhead speaker and an employee comes to unlock the freezer.

According to the employee we spoke to company policy says they can’t challenge shoplifters, but a customer has.

“Sometimes I have stopped people myself. It just frustrates me so much to see the neighborhood fall apart and to have to ask somebody to unlock things,” said Justin Van Zandt, San Francisco Resident.

Almost every aisle has products locked behind plastic cases. We asked what the brown marks were and turns out shoplifters have tried to burn the cases. A vendor who did not want his face on camera said he saw 4 shoplifters in the couple hours he was working at the store.

“They just help themselves. The problem is that they are not punished,” said the vendor.

SFPD’s Sergeant O’meara was on foot patrol outside the store.

“It’s getting worse. Yes because more and more people are coming into the West side of the city on the 38 bus line and they are getting off and they are stealing out of this store,” said Sergeant O’meara.

He did not want his face on camera but said he detained 8 people shoplifting yesterday.

Sergeant O’meara: “People were getting into the store and taking products. If they cross the door if they cross the threshold we can put them under arrest. The 8 people we took on yesterday. 7 of them returned the items. Basically all 8 returned the items. There was a problem with 1 of them.”

Luz Pena: “Did you arrest anybody?”

Sergeant O’meara: “No because the store didn’t wish to put citizen arrest on them. They just wanted their product back.”

Walgreens is not the only store that’s been victimized by crime here.

Across from it is Cigarettes Cheaper. They were burglarized a month ago. The owner said he lost over $100K in merchandise and cash.

“I hope that somebody pays attention. You know to stop this. We can’t afford it. As a small business we can’t afford $100 thousand dollars. Somebody came and took it and nobody did anything about it. It’s really hard for us,” said Ehsan Aman, owner of Cigarettes Cheaper.

And two days before that break-in, a coffee shop across the street was also hit.

“The city, the mayor. They don’t do anything. Nobody pays attention. Nobody does anything. I don’t know why. What do we do? We have no choice,” said Aman.

We contacted the National Retail federation and they confirmed that San Francisco is not the only city that is getting hit by crime.

According to their data, San Francisco and Oakland ranked #2 in the list of top areas affected by Organized Retail Crime.

Click here to read the full article at ABC 7