Thursday, August 14, 2008

Enough already

San Francisco, my friends, ain't all about guys in frills and clam chowder on the Wharf.

In a good number of parts of The City, people are just trying to get by. And that's getting tougher to do while staying alive. This morning, on the other side of the street from our old apartment, two men were found shot dead in their car.

Out-in-the-open violence is becoming more of the norm here. Our old neighborhood, for example, was pretty quiet (except when University of San Francisco students were partying). Students smoked pot (and crack) outside our apartment and drunk students pee'd on car doors. But they didn't go around capping each other.

It's one of the most striking differences from the San Francisco we left six years ago. The violence now is everywhere -- not confined to downtrodden areas like the Tenderloin or Bayview or Hunter's Point -- and more and more it's hitting the innocent who happen to be in its path. A couple months ago, a father and two of his teenage sons in their car just happened to block a narrow street; as they were backing up, someone fired into the car, killing all three. A longtime gangbanger was arrested.

The two guys found dead this morning may not have been innocents. I suspect a drug deal gone bad, with their assailant(s) driving them to our old off-the-beaten-path street and firing bullets into their heads from the backseat. We'll see.

Yet the city's leaders are asleep, thinking that regulating pharmacies from selling tobacco products or setting recycling standards or banning trans fats from fast foods (all fine causes normally) makes up for shirking basic services like protecting the lives of residents. But that might require tough decisions that take money away from the politically powerful.

Friends, you still can come to San Francisco, and of course bring your money. Rest assured, Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, the Castro and crooked Lombard Street will continue to be the safest spots in San Francisco.

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