A viral photo of a man defecating in an aisle of a Safeway store in San Francisco earlier this month has highlighted the challenges that the city faces in keeping the streets — and shops — clean amidst an explosion of homelessness.
The photograph, posted by journalist Deborah Kan, was posted on Sunday morning, Dec. 15, and addressed Mayor London Breed: “@LondonBreed here’s a pic of a man on drugs taking a poo in aisle 10 of @Safeway Marina Sunday morning in #SF. Why is this okay?”
The Marina is one of the city’s wealthier, high-end neighborhoods.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday, in a report titled, “Little bang for the buck: SF’s spending on street cleaning not really doing much,” that the photograph drew attention to Mayor Breed’s losing battle against urban filth — despite spending millions on the problem.
Chronicle reporter Phil Matier observed:
The years of trench warfare between cleanup crews and bad actors was laid out clearly in two images Monday.
The first image was of Mayor London Breed flanked by city, civic and tourist industry leaders standing together in front of the giant Christmas tree at Union Square. The intent was to reassure tourists that the city is taking seriously concerns about its squalid streets and people behaving badly.
While that was happening an image of a man with his pants around his knees defecating in a Marina Safeway aisle was rocketing around the internet and TV.
Homelessness has skyrocketed in San Francisco and throughout the state. According to new figures released last week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, while homelessness rose 2.7% across the country, that increase was “entirely” made up by a rise of 16.4% in California.
San Francisco’s newly-elected District Attorney Chesa Boudin has pledged not to prosecute “quality-of-life” crimes, and to “decriminalize” homelessness: “Crimes such as public camping, offering or soliciting sex, public urination, blocking a sidewalk, etc., should not and will not be prosecuted.”
The Trump administration has accused San Francisco of environmental destruction for its poor handling of the homeless crisis, including human waste and needles flowing directly, untreated, into city drainage systems.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.