SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Tourists are turning away from the City by the Bay, while a huge medical convention has cancelled plans to meet in San Francisco, saying its members don’t feel safe on the streets.

Locals may feel comfortable, but visitors are often shocked when the reality of San Francisco’s streets is a far cry from its postcard image.

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Tourists once took home memories of famed cable cars. These days, too often it is of the image of someone begging, or dancing in circles, or just wandering around the streets intoxicated or mentally ill.

“You can smell it,” says one tourist.

“I come from a third world county and it is not as bad as this,” says another.

Now it’s seriously affecting the city’s biggest business: tourism.

“They feel their safety is as risk because they are seeing so many people with issues,” says Kevin Carroll of the San Francisco Hotel Council.

“They see people laying on the streets — petty crimes going on in the streets,” says Joe D’Alessandro with Travel SF.

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Tourism rakes in $9 billion per year in San Francisco, so officials have been reluctant to go public with the problem. In part, it is because it makes the city look bad and that’s bad for business.

“Restaurants, taxis, people spend more money outside hotels than inside and for that reason it is something we should all be concerned about,” says Carroll.

A major medical association has pulled its $40 million convention out of San Francisco over the state of the streets.

“The convention felt that the streets of San Francisco are not a place that a lot of their delegates wanted to come to,” says Alessandro.

The medical group is not alone.

“A number of groups are concerned about the streets of San Francisco,” says Alessandro. “They say ‘we don’t know if the streets are safe, we don’t know if we want to meet here.’”

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San Francisco spends over $300 million each year on housing and homeless programs, but you wouldn’t know it walking down Market Street.

“It’s obviously not making the difference that it needs to,” says Carroll.

“We are not going to able to accept bad behavior going forward,” says Alessandro. “We have to be compassionate about people in need – but if people are breaking the law.”

Alessandro has been saying this for years but the problem persists.

“There have been some steps in the right direction -we just need a lot more,” he says.

The hotel industry is pressing for a heightened police presence in tourist spots to give people the feeling of safety and comfort. They also want the existing laws on drugs and loitering better-enforced.

Comments (110)
  1. Dave Lin says:

    The liberal so-called compassionate attitudes of not only SF dumb City Hall but its dumb voters who voted them in are to be BLAMED for the car break ins, crimes and drugs of these homeless who are coming from all parts of the country!!!

  2. lilyredrose says:

    Where are the comments?

  3. No doubt, this is the fault of George Bush and the Republicans.

    1. Keith Matthews says:

      You forgot the /sarc tag.

  4. Gavin Newsom left that mess and is about to leave another one in the State of California

  5. Rob Hruska says:

    They won’t fix it, it will be impossible to fix using their methods. Their idea of “fixing” the homeless problem is to spend more money on it. But the more money you spend, the more it attracts the homeless. Their “solution” will only make the problem worse.

  6. Janice Ohlson Husak says:

    They have those nice shoot up rooms to make the adicts safe and comfortable.

  7. Kathy Snow says:

    No one mentioned the fact that the homeless use the streets and sidewalks as bathrooms…….That would keep me from coming to the City for a Conference.

  8. Shawn Grothe says:

    Democrat paradise.

  9. i Visited SF several times in the last couple of years on family matters. The City is awful. I’m greatly relieved that I’ll never have to return there.

    Unfortunately, Democrats are turning as much of the USA into “San Francisco” as they can.

    If you enjoy human suffering, poverty, crime, corruption, and loss of freedom, VOTE DEMOCRAT!

  10. This writer doesn’t know The City. The people lamenting how horrible it has become , ” someone begging, or dancing in circles,,wandering around, intoxicated or mentally ill. ,,people sleeping on the street. with petty crimes going on” sounds the same as the last 40 years.
    This article reeks of naivete, doe eyed surprise and self important entitlements.

  11. Chuck Lantz says:

    The blame should be placed where it belongs; … on the Democrats or the Republicans! If voters hadn’t elected Trump or Obama or Bush or Clinton, none of this would have ever happened.

    It’s time for us to stand up or sit down and go vote or stay home on election day! I say that enough is enough, or nowhere near enough, or too much, or none at all!

    The choice is up to no one!

    If you agree, post a comment! … Or not! … Either way, I’ll declare it a win.

    1. Keith Matthews says:

      The blame should be placed where it belongs, on the Democrats! If voters hadn’t elected democrats none of this would have ever happened.

      Fixed that for ya.

      1. Chuck Lantz says:

        The blame should be placed where it belongs, on the Republicans! If voters hadn’t elected Republicans none of this would have ever happened.

        Fixed that for ya.

      2. Keith Matthews says:

        There hasn’t been a Republican mayor of San Fransisco since January 7 1964, over 55 years. The last Republican mayor was George Christopher who was in office from January 8, 1956 to January 7, 1964. There has been eleven democrat mayors since then. You can’t blame it on Republicans.

      3. Chuck Lantz says:

        “There hasn’t been a Republican mayor of San Fransisco since January 7 1964, over 55 years.”

        You don’t really think we can repair the damage done by that Republican in just 55 years, do you?

      4. Keith Matthews says:

        Considering the complexity of the matter and the incompetency level of democrats it may well be an unattainable goal.