- San Francisco’s downtown activity was down to 31 compared to 2019 as the city contends with high crime despite finally agreeing to shut down its controversial open-air drug market by the end of the year
- Cleveland’s downtown activity was down to 36 percent, a blow to the city making strides to fight back decade high crime rates and giving police more leeway to crack down on crime
- Portland had the third worst downtown activity since its pre-pandemic era, down to 41 percent, as homeless encampments surge in the city that championed the defund the police movement
- Meanwhile, cities like Salt Lake City, Utah, Bakersfield, California and Columbus Ohio are enjoying the fastest comeback, seeing their downtown activity go up by more than 110 percent
San Francisco, Cleveland and Portland have the most deserted downtowns in the US as soaring crime rates in the Democratic cities scare away workers and tourists.
In a recent study by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California Berkeley, San Francisco’s downtown area was found to be only 31 percent active over the spring of 2022 when compared to pre-pandemic levels, with Cleveland at 36 percent and Portland at 41 percent.
Meanwhile, cities like Salt Lake City, Utah, Bakersfield, California and Columbus Ohio are enjoying the fastest comeback, seeing their downtown activity go up by more than 110 percent since 2019.
By tracking more than 18 million smartphone users traveling through America’s busiest downtowns, researchers found that the three cities, which have been plagued by a spike in crime, are trailing in COVID-19 recovery.
According to the latest available FBI Unified Crime Report, San Francisco had the highest overall crime rate of the 20 largest cities in the United States, recording 6,917 crimes per 100,000 population in 2019.
That was more than double the crime rates in New York and Los Angeles, and well above the rates in the next largest US cities: Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix.
A year later following the Black Lives Matter protests, the call to defund the police grew among Democratic leaders.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed demanded cities defund the police last year, announcing that the Golden Gate City would be one of the first to do so and promising to slice $120million from the budgets of its police and sheriff’s departments.
The city also greenlit its first open-air drug market in San Francisco’s civic center, which spurred vagrants in homeless encampments across the city to use illegal substances out in broad daylight.
Breed has since made a screeching U-turn and announced she was asking the city’s Board of Supervisors for more money to be given to the police to stamp out drug dealing, car break-ins, and theft.
Crime remains stubbornly high in the Golden Gate City, with overall crime up 7.4 percent as of August 14 compared to the same time last year.
Assaults are up nearly 12 percent, and robberies are up 2.4 percent. Thefts have spiked by 17.5 percent compared to last year, and rapes have also increased by 9.5 percent.
In June, citizens fed up with the state of their city 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.
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.
He has since been replaced by Brooke Jenkins, 40, who cleaned house after taking her old boss’ job as both she and Breed vowed to crack down on soaring crime and increasingly prevalent open-air drug markets in the city.
The city’s open-air drug market project was terminated and would be shut down by the end of the year.
Breed called for progressive policies that have allowed criminal behavior to make a mockery of the city’s famed tolerance and compassion to be replaced with ‘more aggressive policing.’
Breed said she plans to introduce legislation that allows law enforcement officers real-time access to surveillance video in certain situations, as well as measures that would make it harder to sell stolen goods.
‘It’s time the reign of criminals who are destroying our city, it is time for it to come to an end,’ she said. ‘And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement, more aggressive with the changes in our policies.’
Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the city is urgently trying to recover from its historically high crime rate, which saw an average of 10,435 arrests in the past three years.
As of the first half of the year, the city has only reported 3,764 arrests, with weapon charges sinking by 51 percent since last year, with police reporting a 49 percent drop in guns confiscated.
Drug arrests have dropped by 32 percent since the same time last year, and there were 29 percent fewer arrests for grand theft auto.
But police are still condending with high homicide rates, reporting 90 killings as of August, only slightly down from the 101 murders reroded by the same time last year.