SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The holiday vibe in San Francisco’s Union Square is competing with a problem that’s gone from bad to worse, the growing reality of the city’s homeless problem.
Recent video taken by a salon owner in Union Square showed a homeless woman undressing herself just steps from the salon’s front door. “This s getting out of control,” said owner Bibbo Saab, who added it was not an uncommon scene.
He said multiple clients refused to enter his salon because the woman was defecating in front of it. Bibbo called police but, “they always say the same phrase, ‘there’s nothing we can do.’”
Saab said he moved to San Francisco from Brazil 32 years ago. He said Union Square felt magical then; it’s the reason he stayed. “Union Square was the center of San Francisco,” said Saab. “It’s become a place nobody wants to come to anymore.”
Saab said he feels like he’s watching the city center die, and he wants Mayor Ed Lee to do something, now. “Wake up, bring back Union Square, bring back safety to the city,” said Saab.
“I would totally understand why he would be pissed off, if you will,” said Lee.
“Does San Francisco need systemic change to address the homeless problem?” we asked.
“We need to do better and we need to do more,” said Lee.
Lee said mental health issues clearly exacerbate the situation. He is setting aside rooms at shelters for people with psychiatric challenges and promising to get 1,000 people off the streets this winter.
Lee also promises to personally address the situation outside Saab’s salon.
“I will personally inquire to help him out, someone experiencing that kind of activity outside their establishment it’s unacceptable,” said Lee.
But Saab said he doesn’t trust Lee’s pledge, and looking at shuttered storefronts across the way he wonders how much longer he can hold out.
“That’s not something that any business can stand,” he said.