In a bizarre twist, San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed is seemingly playing a game of Simon Says with downtown office developers, crying, “help us, help you!” Despite her valiant effort to tame the urban wilderness that has become the city center, a huge chunk of commercial space demands attention. A cynical smile creeps across one’s face when considering the monumental task of repurposing the idle office towers—like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Alas, the urban knights of the real estate round table have spoken: “Clean up the streets!”
Imagine that. The very stakeholders of San Francisco—the real estate tycoons, business owners, and residents—have been pleading the same thing for years, to clean up their once vibrant city. An insurmountable problem looms, however, one riddled with homelessness, dwindling police force, and a sense of chaos that permeates the city. The once bustling streets of downtown, which are home to a lion’s share of the city’s tax base, now resemble a ghost town—its buildings echoing the stark reality of a city on the brink.
The irony of it all is that the constituents of this great city voted for this reality. They wanted to decriminalize drugs; they deemed the police force as archaic and oppressive. The result is a city grappling with a $780 million budget deficit projected for the next two years—a bitter pill to swallow. It’s humorous, albeit in a dark way, to think that the same people who allowed open-air drug markets to flourish are the ones puzzled by their city’s deterioration. The reality is that no amount of repurposing or reimagining can mend a city until the streets are safe, clean, and livable. So, with a touch of sarcasm and a dollop of authority, I say: “Good luck, San Francisco; you’ll need it.”
#SanFranciscoChallenge #UrbanJungle #ReviveOrSurvive
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