San Francisco has become a “desolate” city over the past year, as the coronavirus pandemic forced people to work from home — and companies learned to embrace it.
Now, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the city is empty — and may struggle to regain its former bustle:
Once-crammed streets are desolate, with only the whoosh of automobile traffic stirring the air. Muni buses and BART trains run nearly empty. Storefronts are boarded up or vacant, from the 172-year-old Tadich Grill to the shells of trendy juice shops and fitness clubs. Almost all offices have been closed for 11 months, with no return date set. The patter of rain in recent days has made the mood even bleaker.
The prospect of workers returning soon — after shelter-in-place lifts, after vaccines roll out, after schools reopen — has receded, and nonessential workers remain banned from offices. Remote work, made necessary by the health crisis, is becoming a permanent policy at many of the city’s biggest employers. Once tech’s rising capital, downtown San Francisco may never return to its frenetic, bustling state.
Any reduction in workers will have seismic effects on the local economy. Citywide sales taxes, a measure of business health, dropped 43% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the prior year. The biggest drops were in downtown, with losses over 70% and restaurants and hotels bearing the brunt of declines.
The city still enjoys a budget surplus. Still, with schools failing to reopen, tourism at a standstill, and homelessness and street crime still plaguing the city, San Francisco faces a long climb back.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.