San Francisco and Sacramento…one was closed off and scared of its future and the other was friendly and open to discussion for the future…welcome to a different type of blog – the future of two cities – approx. 120 miles apart…
San Francisco is on the decline – fact. Homelessness is plaguing the city and the city have no idea how to change its course. “Spiralling out of control…” was what three different people described San Francisco to me as. The homelessness problem is evident in the city and it’s not isolated to one or two streets – it’s blocks and in some cases huge massive areas. Two main areas – Tenderloin and Mission – are both passing areas for tourists but both are extremely dangerous. Some would disagree but here’s my evidence. In the Tenderloin two police officers approached as I said “Hello…” I was in ironed shirt and pressed trousers as I was just out of the theatre – which is on market street at the bottom of Tenderloin. Next to us was plastic sheets tied to the fence and stretched out with pegs as individuals beg below and screaming some profanities. Next to them is crack pipes, joints, tin foil, needles and so on. The officers ask where I was going. I advised them my address and said I wasn’t from around here – they quickly said ok walk with us. I was being escorted out of the area. Seven blocks up – after a 15 minute stroll up hill they said your’ll be safe from here. We had been chatting all the way and they said the only reason they go in is because that’s there job and they get paid. Anyone that’s not from here doesn’t realise the serious drug dealing occurring, the engrained homelessness, the desperation on the streets and the decline that San Francisco is having. I have never felt so unsafe on my whole adventure as much as I did in this area. But I think the main decision makers of the city know it and they can’t face it. I think the Mayor and city hall know – but they have yet to get the right people around table and fix it and until they do everything will continue to decline. The police can’t do much but walk up to young man and advise to “discard his tin foil…” as he was about to use it to create pleasure but also dismay in his life.
I get that the world is very unfair place. But when a city is on the brink of disaster – not an exaggeration – then that’s due to a lack of human management. The city has a limited social care system actually the country. San Francisco is not managing the problems effectively and this is leading to disarray and crime rates, street safety and also a decline in tourism.
I spoke to my hostel regarding the whole area and he said – I’m from here I am used to it…so I replied “so you think it’s acceptable and safe there’s a guy across the road swinging an umbrella in the middle of the street screaming from the top of his lungs some obscene language and then right outside the door a man is shooting up…” he didn’t know how to respond. For me I’m savvy enough but I feel for families whose children are excited to come to America and then they are approached by citizen whose country is failing them. Where mental health hospitals were closed down to funding and other bad legalisation choices. Failing that’s what it is.
(yes that below is on one of the extremely busy streets full of tourists in San Francisco…that was there for one full day – 24 hours…that was on a street which also houses the Hilton one block to the left and were children were walking past – acceptable San Francisco?)
In the time I experienced San Francisco I realised something – that was very clear. Those that are fortunate who walk past think it’s not my problem. But it is their problem. Because pressure needs to be put on political leaders to stand up and face the music. No one has. Instead of grabbing there children closer tourists should send an email to say – there is a problem. One other thing in San Fran was museums, venues and the tourism board were shall we say lacking in having discussions. They would email say yes let’s discuss. Then with a reminder email – on two separate occasions – sorry we “misplaced your email…” what did you file it in the storing cabinets that you still use form the 1970s? Then the best thing happened…I got a train out of San Francisco.
Sacramento. A beautiful place. I wish I would have stayed there for another 10 days. Although there in a small homeless community and due to the size in comparison they are up for having the discussion. The chat is there on the table. The forward thinking is there. A city, which is the state capital of California, has plans and ideas. In terms of events – there positioning and there abilities are forward thinking. They want to create events and opportunities to better the community. They understand the climate we are in but they understand after some great discussions the biggest and most successful tool is community buy in and engagement. No matter what the message is – if the city citizens are listening and buy in – things are completed to a higher standard. It’s brilliant to see and feel. No matter what the event is there will be a community who engage and participate.
My time in Sacramento was not enough. I was absolutely fell in love with the town. Thanks to Mary from City of Sacramento Council I had a diverse program that would allow me to meet other management, event nerds and everything in between who are involved in events. For the time I was there – it was constant. I didn’t stop. But all of the meetings were worth it. The people who are in the creative industries are about forwarding the the city to benefit the industry. It’s about making the changes and becoming the best for the future. They have plans, ideas and the Human Resources. Every wall (well majority of the city) is painted on, culture and history is everywhere – all they need to do is connect it slightly better and the Sacramento will be a leader in tourism experiences. There volunteering programmes at events have been constructed in quite spectacular fashion. They have a very solid database and future for volunteering. Social benefits is the priority and for me it shows that is the quest in forwarding the people of Sacramento in opportunities that they can engage with in their own time. I will be back Sacramento that’s for sure! Thanks to everyone who made the experience amazing.
So to sum up this blog. Sacramento could teach San Francisco a thing or two. San Fran has to open itself and admit there is problems. But over the next 2 years if they don’t – tourist numbers will decline, satisfaction of experiences will decline and the city will for sure become a place of lost hope rather than beauty. It’s not the Golden Gate Bridge, Mrs Doubtfires or the over expensive tram rides that is San Francisco it’s the people – and so far the city is failing them…