San Francisco's small businesses are closing in waves as just 24% of office employees return, big tech companies like Google are slow hiring, and the city center devolves into an open-air drug market
July 22, 2022
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- San Francisco's small businesses are closing down in waves as tech workers remain slow to return to the office
- The revelation comes as it was revealed earlier this month that office vacancy in the the Bay Area has risen to a startling 24.2%
- The statistic illustrates the city's failure to recover since the pandemic, with homeless encampments becoming commonplace over the past two years
San Francisco's small businesses are closing down in waves as tech workers remain slow to return to the office, it has been revealed - a consequence of the woke city's continuing woes since the start of the pandemic.
The revelation comes as it was revealed earlier this month that office vacancy in the the Bay Area has risen to a startling 24.2% in the most recent earnings quarter - up from 23.8% in the prior period.
The statistic illustrates the city's failure to recover following the initial spread of the coronavirus, with homeless encampments and open-air drug markets becoming commonplace on its streets the past two years.
As crime continues to surge, office workers continue to feel increasingly unsafe, electing to work from the safety of their home instead of venturing outside for a conventional commute.
That recent gravitation toward remote work - coupled with mass firings - while saving money for big tech, has left small businesses in the region struggling, as they rely on the presence of the now-absent workers to turn a profit.
Deepening the struggle are recent hiring freezes implemented as of late by some of the region's biggest companies, such as Google - leading to even less foot traffic in the city's now crime-ridden hubs.
Layoffs in the Valley are also rife, with Bay Area companies like Meta and Tesla recently firing thousands of staff to raise their bottom lines.
Other tech companies, including the Elon Musk-led Tesla, have moved out of California for tax-friendly states such as Texas and Florida. Others still have closed their offices altogether to fully embrace the recent advent of remote work, or have at least downsized in preparation for a hybrid future.
One such business is Marshall Luck’s chiropractic and massage practice in the city's downtown area, Rincon Chiro, which has been hit particularly hard by dwindling foot-traffic.
'Most of our patient population is the larger businesses,' Luck told CNBC in an interview. 'As they return, it’s going to help us stay stable. That’s what we’re kind of hanging on for - that recovery.'
Other businesses - particularly restaurants, retail outlets, and places of healthcare - have also suffered in the city, whose desolateness has prevailed long after lockdown orders were rescinded in late 2020.
What's more, Mayor London Breed's office recently estimated that as much as one-third of San Francisco’s workforce now lives outside of the city - working from the comfort of their homes instead of braving the seedy San Franciscan streets.
Last year, that resulted in a $400 million hit to the city's tax revenue, further hindering the city's return the office - which has been markedly slower than other cities.
'We’re slower than New York, we’re slower than Chicago, and it does have to relate to being so heavily dependent on tech,' said Cushman and Wakefield’s Bay Area Regional Director Robert Sammons, told CNBC.
As of July, only 40%of the real estate giant's San Francisco employees have returned to the office, a trend that is widespread across the region as CEOs look to cut costs amid talks of a looming recession.
Another solution execs have turned to are hiring freezes - with Telsa CEO Elon Musk hit the pause button on hiring last month due to a 'super bad feeling' about to world economy.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said he is planning for the worst because if a recession sets in, a 'crypto winter' is coming.
The crypto trading company, also based in the Bay Area, laid off 18% of its nearly 4,000 employees last month, with roughly 700 staffers saying goodbye to their jobs.
Armstrong wrote in an internal memo to staffers at the time, 'I am making the difficult decision to reduce the size of our team by about 18 percent, to ensure we stay healthy during this economic downturn.'
Most recently, though, search giant Google said it too would pause hiring earlier this week - leading many to wonder just how bad the situation really is.
Last month, Musk’s Tesla is also cutting 3.5% of its 100,000 workforce - a reduction of roughly 3,500. The company's main factory is based in Freemont, which is part of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Meta, meanwhile, has plans to slash hiring of engineers this year by at least 30%.
Competing social media platform Twitter paused hiring in May.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal told staffers at the time that the company had been struggling and failing to meet goals for audience building and revenue, Bloomberg reported.
The company implemented a work-from-home-forever policy during the pandemic.
It officially reopened its offices March 15, with remote work remaining an option for staffers. Since then, turnout at the social media giant has been understandably sparse.
The city's failure to quell crime has further hampered the situation, with both Breed and new District Attorney Brooke Jenkins - who replaced the recalled Chesa Boudin - have vowed to crack down on soaring crime and increasingly prevalent open-air drug markets.
Now ask yourself this question would you want your children to walk through this squalor just to get home from school? @JoeBiden @VP @SpeakerPelosi @SenFeinstein @LondonBreed @SFPDChief #DoBetter #democrats #politics #Police #DRUGS #SanFrancisco #California #crime #DoYourJob #NA pic.twitter.com/ZBa8PApgtC— Ricci Wynne (@RawRicci415) July 8, 2022
A shocking video released earlier this month showed school children having to navigate their way through one such market, a filthy, open-air drug den of homeless addicts, after getting off a school bus at the end of the day.
The video, posed by Ricci Wynne, showed the elementary school kids filing off the 14 transit line in the Golden Gate City at 8th Street and Mission by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company building past dozens of sickly users nodding out on the sidewalk.
'This is no back ally,' Wynne wrote in the tweet. 'This is the main artery of the city that has been hijacked bye [SIC] drug dealers and now is Pure filth,' Wynne said in the tweet.
'I'm just trying to bring the images of the streets and the conditions to [the public],' he said in a separate video. 'Bring the awareness up...I'm trying to push for a change and try to see if we can get the streets back because we're losing out here.'
The kids appear chipper as they head back home after their classes in a stark contrast to the junkies scowling as the sit on the garbage-strewn pavement shooting up.
'Now ask yourself this question, would you want your children to walk through this squalor just to get home from school? @JoeBiden @VP @SpeakerPelosi @SenFeinstein @LondonBreed @SFPDChief #DoBetter #democrats #politics #Drugs #California #crime #DoYourJob #NA.'
Wynne, who describes himself as a 'career criminal' and a recovering drug addict, frequently posts videos of addicts on the streets or the piles of garbage and used needles that they leave behind.
The de facto favela the young children were forced to walk through in the clip is just a block away from the city's notorious taxpayer-funded Linkage Center, which quickly became a site for addicts to take illicit drugs on the street in broad daylight.
Other similar encampments have become commonplace across the city.
Homeless deaths doubled in San Francisco during the first year of the pandemic. ucsf.edu
Last month, citizens fed up with the state of their city - more than 70,730 people out of roughly 118,000 citizens - voted to oust woke District Attorney Chesa Boudin, whose anti-incarceration policies have been widely panned as causing the ongoing crisis.
He was originally elected on a platform of criminal justice reform, but his notoriously progressive laws have been widely blamed for rising crime and homelessness in the Bay Area since the start of the pandemic.
He has since been replaced by Brooke Jenkins, 40, who cleaned house after taking her old boss' job.
During Boudin's time in office, 'smash-and-grab' robberies became commonplace, with thieves brazenly raiding store shelves in broad daylight, only to avoid charges thanks to Boudin's lax policies.
Such robberies have forced stores across the city to close down to avoid being victimized in the premeditated - and often coordinated - strikes.
Finally local business groups funded the recall campaign against Boudin, accusing him of not doing enough to keep citizens safe and introducing policies that allow repeat offenders to commit crimes without fear of incarceration.
But Boudin and his supporters claimed that the recall was a Republican effort designed to undermine his progressive-led reforms, which have caused a 5.7% increase in crime this year with assaults up 11.2% and thefts up nearly 15%.
They created an electoral dynamic where we were literally shadowboxing,' Boudin said following the vote. 'This is a Republican- and police union-led playbook to undermine and attack progressive prosecutors who have been winning elections across the country.
'The playbook involves delegitimizing and fear-mongering and recalling. It's a tactic being used by folks who are increasingly unable to prevail in elections when they put forward their views about public safety and justice.'
He did, however, concede that voters were understandably frustrated by the pandemic but thrust the blame on city officials that he said has failed to deliver on safety, housing, and equity, as murders and assaults continue to rise from last year - one of the worst years crime-wise the city had seen in decades.
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