SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Just a week out from the six-month anniversary of the coronavirus lockdown and new problems are falling out of the sky in San Francisco.
“First we had to deal with the COVID and the shutdown,” says Maurice Darwish, owner of the Cove On Castro. “Then all of a sudden, weâve got fires and smoke. Itâs a very sad situation for everybody all around.âREAD MORE: State Sen. Wiener's Recovery Incentives Act Would Pay Meth Addicts to Stay Sober
The slow-motion emergency just continues for Darwish. After closing his doors for three months, the outdoor partnership with the bar next door was just starting to work out.
âWeâre very pleased with it,” Darwish said. “But then again, you got a hit from the left side with the fires and the ash and the air.â
With empty tables, deserted parks, and very slow streets, for the second day in a row, the bad air gave the city an emptiness that felt more like the start of the shutdown.
“This is so bizarre,” Alston Laughlin said in an empty Golden Gate Park Panhandle. “Thereâs nobody here. Itâs kind of freaky.
âHardly anybody on the streets walking,” Pat Darden said in North Beach. “Very few cars.âREAD MORE: Notorious Norteño Gang Member 'Lil Rhino' Sentenced For Carrying Out Jailhouse Attacks
Collecting over the city, like the smoke, is a sense that these problems are not drifting away any time soon. Wildfire and related problems have become a feature, not a bug. And while the pandemic will be temporary, it has compounded problems that were here before, and will here once the virus is gone.
âBetween the homeless and that situation, and then this pandemic,” Darden said. “They say like half the businesses have gone out of business.â
âI think itâs going to be here for a long, long time, and itâs really going to pinch our system,” Laughlin added. “Itâs pinching our friendships. Itâs very difficult to put up with it all.â
âI’m convinced thereâs going to be a turning point,” said Darwish. “Weâre not too far, but weâre not there yet.â
That is a conversation heard a lot in the city these days. Where is the bottom and what is it going to take to crawl back out?MORE NEWS: Santa Rosa Lawmaker Proposes Plan For City-Sanctioned Sideshows
âItâs just hard to fathom how much damage will occur, Darwish said of San Francisco. “I can see how much has already occurred, but I canât tell you how much more. Itâs very scary.â