San Francisco’s Can-Kicking on Zoning Reform Could See It Lose All Zoning Powers

“It takes San Francisco three years on average to fully approve new housing projects, the longest of any jurisdiction in California, according to an audit published by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in October.
The very predictable result is that the Golden State’s fourth-largest city is also one of the nation’s most expensive, with median one-bedroom rents above $2,000 and a median home value of $1.4 million.

That San Francisco is expensive because it takes forever to approve new housing isn’t a new finding. Whether the city will actually get rid of the regulations gumming up home construction is now coming to a head.”

San Francisco’s APEC Cleanup Hasn’t ‘Fixed’ Its Homelessness Problem

“there’s the one homelessness problem experienced by the homeless themselves through a lack of housing. Then there’s the other homelessness problem experienced by the public generally through exposure to a bunch of vagrancy and disorderly behavior spilling out into streets because of that lack of homes.
San Francisco’s APEC cleanup did nothing to address the first homelessness problem, which is what the local homeless advocates are complaining about. The city simply moved some homeless people from one area of the city to another. Some have plausibly ended up inside homeless shelters or less visible spots on the street. But, the number of homeless people in the city remains as high as ever.

San Francisco did make some progress on the second homelessness problem by dismantling tent encampments, replacing people on the streets with flower boxes, and creating a heavily policed security cordon covering a few city blocks.

Even still, the city hardly “fixed” its second homelessness problem. It just shifted encampments and vagrant behavior away from the downtown.”

“San Francisco is one of the richest cities in the free world. Its residents shouldn’t have to choose between a degraded quality of life that comes with thousands of people living on the streets and an aggressive police state that keeps those thousands of homeless out of sight and out of mind.
Escaping that unhappy tradeoff would require the city, and the surrounding region, to radically liberalize housing construction.

That would bring housing prices down and bring a lot more people inside. That wouldn’t solve everyone’s problems, but it would mean a lot of dysfunctional behavior playing out in public will instead move behind closed doors.

A less overwhelmed San Francisco city government (and voluntary philanthropic actors) could also more judiciously deal with those remaining people that insist on pitching a tent in the park or smoking meth on the street.”

San Francisco’s Got Problems. There’s No Need To Exaggerate Them for Political Reasons.

“San Francisco remains (arguably) the most beautiful city in the country. Its parks are lovely and mostly orderly and clean. On Sunday, we played miniature golf and frequented food trucks, along with hundreds of young families. People were generally friendly and the restaurants and nightlife were fabulous. Most neighborhoods are surprisingly quiet and safe.

The city’s critics aren’t entirely wrong, of course. Locals warned us not to leave anything in our cars given surging property crimes. The Tenderloin—the notoriously downtrodden downtown neighborhood—is an open sewer of drug dealing and panhandling, just as critics say. Homeless tents line a portion of Market Street near the main shopping drag. But is it fair to define an entire city that way?”

It looks like people are actually moving back to San Francisco (really)

“Why are people moving to San Francisco? In some sense, it’s a matter of popular cities continuing to be popular. That means people still find value and jobs there. The Bay Area is culturally rich, with people — and culture and food — from around the world. While tech companies have been cutting back on hiring lately, the area is still the home base to their giant and lucrative businesses, meaning there’s still plenty of opportunity for workers.
There’s reason to believe that people aren’t just moving back to San Francisco because they want to. The move back also represents a solidification of remote work policies, in which many companies have come down on the side of hybrid work, where people are still expected in the office some of the time. In other words, people who may have wanted to move elsewhere permanently have been forced back to the Bay Area, though perhaps in different locations than they had been.

The decision to return to the Bay Area could also come from employees who are hoping to put in face time with their bosses ahead of a potential recession. Studies have shown that bosses view people who work in the offices more favorably and are more likely to consider them for promotion.”

A Former Obama Drug Policy Adviser Blames ‘Libertarianism’ for ‘Fueling San Francisco’s Drug Crisis’

“Humphreys thinks the root of “San Francisco’s drug crisis” is “a libertarian, individualistic culture” that since the 19th century has attracted people who yearn “to be free of traditional constraints back East, to reinvent themselves, to escape the small-mindedness of small towns and to find themselves.” While that culture “underlies the city’s entrepreneurialism, artistic energy and tolerance for diversity in all forms,” he says, it “has a downside when it comes to addiction, which thrives in such a cultural milieu.” San Francisco “has long been one of the booziest cities in the country,” he writes, and “heavy use of substances has always been part of how San Francisco defines freedom and the good life.”
Conflating “heavy use of substances” with libertarianism is more than a little strange. Libertarianism focuses on the proper role of government; it does not tell people how they should conduct their private lives, except insofar as their actions impinge on the rights of others.”

“The actual cause of ever-escalating drug deaths, he avers, is “the libertarian assumption that given freedom and tolerance, everyone will rationally and productively pursue their self-interest,” which “cannot explain why a starving person would, for example, forgo food in exchange for fentanyl or cocaine.”

The assumption that Humphreys describes as “libertarian” is plainly at odds with reality. But libertarianism does not assume that people never make mistakes, never develop bad habits, or never engage in behavior they ultimately regret. It simply argues, for moral and pragmatic reasons, that the possibility of error is not enough to justify using force, which should be reserved for conduct that violates other people’s rights.

Humphreys suggests that decisions regarding psychoactive drugs are a special case because those substances negate the ability to choose. As I explain in Saying Yes, this belief is a tenet of voodoo pharmacology, which posits that drugs take control of people and compel them to act against their own interests.

Survey data, which show that people can and generally do use both legal and illegal drugs without developing life-disrupting habits, contradict that theory. Observational and laboratory research confirms that the way people react to drugs is not pharmacologically determined but highly contingent on the circumstances and incentives they face, as psychologists such as Stanton Peele, Bruce Alexander, and Carl Hart have been pointing out for many years.”

“”Portugal is in no way a libertarian country,” Humphreys writes. “Rather, it’s a cohesive, communal society in which drug use is culturally frowned upon rather than celebrated as a sign of freedom. When drug-addicted people commit crimes in Portugal, they are sent to a ‘dissuasion committee’ that can apply penalties to those who refuse to seek and stay in addiction treatment. Informally, this is backed up by pressure from family and community for addicted individuals to enter recovery.”

Humphreys is right that Portugal’s approach is not libertarian. While “dissuading” drug users is preferable to arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating them, it shows little respect for individual autonomy. Humphreys is comfortable with that because he thinks individual autonomy is meaningless in the context of drug use. Hence he thinks San Francisco should “use court authority to mandate addiction treatment more broadly than it currently does.””

Walgreens ‘Helped Fuel’ Opioid Crisis in San Francisco, Says Judge

“Walgreens fills prescriptions. It is not in the business of drug enforcement. If some of the prescriptions filled by Walgreens were written by dirty doctors or went to people who abused them, it is not on individual pharmacists to figure that out.
Expecting pharmacists to be drug cops, too, ensures that more pharmacies will be hesitant to fill legitimate prescriptions, leaving patients in the lurch. It also threatens to worsen America’s pharmacist shortage.

In a number of recent cases, pharmacies and pharmacists have been sued for not filling prescriptions. including opioid prescriptions. It seems we’ve put them in a classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.”

“To sum it up: Walgreens filled prescriptions for a legal substance, but because some people went on to distribute or use the drugs in ways the government has forbidden, the company has to pay the government huge sums of money. Meanwhile, the inability of people to get prescription painkillers has given way to reliance on much more dangerous substances, like fentanyl, from which many more people are dying of overdoses. People keep taking opioids, and the government keeps making it harder for them to do so safely.”

San Francisco Fines Businesses for Getting Vandalized

“Getting your business vandalized sounds like punishment enough. For some San Francisco business owners, it’s just the beginning of their troubles.

A steady stream of restaurateurs and retailers have been complaining about the city’s practice of issuing them fines for not being quick enough to remove chronic graffiti being applied to their shopfronts and street cafes.”