If You're Going To San Francisco...Think Again

A few decades ago, Scott McKenzie sang one of the classic hippie anthems, “San Francisco,” back in 1967. It was sung during the heyday of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Flower power was the rage. Peace, love, and understanding were the mantras of the day, in response to the Viet Nam War and the oppression of The Man.

McKenzie sang, “If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” Back then, the flowers were for decoration, to match the tie-dyed clothing and sandals.

Flash forward fifty years, and residents of San Francisco may need to wear flowers, not only in their hair, but also covering their entire bodies. Not for decoration, however, but to mask the odor of a new feature of the streets of San Francisco.


And it's been making the national news, a veritable emblem of what the city has become. The newly inaugurated San Francisco mayor is London Breed, who, as an aside, has a perfect 1960s name. Interviewed after her inauguration, the Daily Caller noted that she observed that the streets of her city "are flooded with the excrement of the homeless.”

In other words, San Francisco has become Poop City.

Apparently this is not a new problem. The famous chronicler of the city, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, occasionally would use the phrase in his daily screeds during the 1980s and 1990s, but it's far worse now. As the Daily Caller had the new mayor noting: “There is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here.” And not just poop. Added to the mix is a “dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces.”

Lovely. In 1967, “If you're going to San Francisco, you're gonna meet some gentle people there.” Now you will meet a garbage dump mixed with a cesspool.

San Francisco has about 7,500 homeless individuals and is spending $280 million on homeless services for them. Some simple math reveals that the city could give each homeless resident just over $37,000 per year, a figure well above the minimum wage in most other places, and call it a day.

If you take out the salaries of all the bureaucrats administering these “homeless services,” there would likely be more than $100,000 available for each homeless person. But you know that won’t happen in a Democrat-run city, an administrative state, like San Francisco.

How can the city discourage the homeless from using the sidewalks as their toilets? In their minds, spend more money. The mayor assured her fellow progressives: “Harsher penalties for offenders are not on the table.” Instead the typical liberal solution, as the mayor promised, came to: “I work hard to make sure your programs are funded.” I wonder if we’ll see toilet paper dispensers popping up on the sidewalks?

This situation might seem to be a cross between funny and absurd, but it has economic consequences far beyond the necessary clean-up. Who might not be going to San Francisco because of the city’s pungent new attractions?

Start with conventions? San Francisco has always been a popular convention destination due to its fairly pleasant weather, its tourist attractions, its world-class restaurants, and of course, the cable cars. But in its current state, the bloom is off the San Francisco rose.

A major medical association recently cancelled its annual meeting which would have brought 15,000 attendees and $40 million to the San Francisco economy, according to the SF Chronicle. This, after many years of coming to the city. Think of that. A group of doctors, quite familiar with feces, needles, and the downtrodden, have said "enough."

These are things doctors can see in the medical ward and prefer to avoid when away from work, often with family, at a medical conference. It’s likely that other trade groups and industries will stay away from San Francisco as well.

Can you blame them? How many U.S. cities provide visitors with a public defecation map to help tourists steer clear of piles of poop littering the city’s sidewalks? Or which other city can boast of the 20-pound bag of poop found a few weeks ago on a city sidewalk?

How did things get this bad for the city that Tony Bennett left his heart in? When Tony recorded that song in the 1950s, San Francisco had a Republican mayor. Their last Republican mayor, George Christopher, left office in 1964, when the Beatles arrived in America. Since then, it’s been a hard day’s night for San Francisco, with nearly sixty years' worth of Democrats running the show.

At a national level, San Francisco is represented by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Kamala Harris, all of whom are hard-core liberals. I am quite confident that there are no piles of poop on the sidewalks in front of their homes.

San Francisco is just another of many U.S. cities run by Democrats, and into the ground. Even liberal film maker Michael Moore observed about his home city in Michigan: “Flint has voted for Dems for 84 straight yrs. What did it get us?”

San Francisco is left with virtue-signaling in the name of compassion, tolerance and all the other liberal claptrap in a bid to try to hide third world conditions on city streets. Aside from visitors choosing to go anywhere but San Francisco, what about the residents living in such conditions?

Warm summer temperatures and open sewers become a microbiology laboratory. Toss in a bunch of undernourished and unhealthy homeless persons, sharing hypodermic needles, and pestilence follows. Such a shame for a once-magnificent city.

Rather than cleaning up its mess, San Francisco has just this week banned plastic straws. Poop and hypodermic syringes littering the sidewalks is just fine, but watch out for those nasty little plastic straws.

Once upon a time Scott McKenzie’s words rang true, “For those who come to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there.” Now it’s simply America’s version of a s***hole.

Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.