Small business owners in San Francisco's Castro district sent a letter to city officials saying that members of the group plan to stop paying taxes if the city does not do more to address the increasing problems from crime, drug use, lack of housing and cleanliness.
The Castro District Merchants Association formally demanded that officials take action to solve the problems that are taking over the area. In the letter, the association claims that people living on the street "regularly experience psychotic episodes" and have smashed storefronts and harassed business owners, employees, residents and tourists, San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Complaint and response from the authorities
The small business owners beg authorities "to take action.” According to Terrance Alan, co-president of the association, the thefts and acts of vandalism are mostly carried out by homeless people:
Every day we get up and have to help people on the street. We have to clean the feces from the street. We have to clear people out of the gates so we can open our businesses. It is not fair.
The San Francisco Chronicle mentions that in the letter the group asked the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) "to execute a plan on how to provide services to people who repeatedly refuse help from government programs."
SFDOH responded to the association with a statement of its own where it acknowledged the concerns of the entrepreneurs and said it is working to address them "although there are difficulties in meeting the demands."
Dave Karraker, co-president of the association, said that if the association's demands are not met, the association could ask store owners to stop paying city taxes and other fees. He even warned of civil disobedience.
If the city cannot provide the basic services for businesses to become successful enterprises, then what are we paying for? You can't have a street of vibrant, successful businesses when you have people blacked out on drugs. littering your sidewalk. These people need help.... Until we see demonstrable change, everything is on the table, including civil disobedience.... We cannot go on with more of the same.
Homelessness and crime
Businesses throughout San Francisco have seen a dramatic increase in burglaries and vandalism since 2019. The Castro Merchants Association began documenting incidents during the pandemic and noted more than 90 incidents totaling approximately $170,000 in repair costs.
Taking into account that 2.2% of the city's population lives on the street and muggings increased by 12.2% this year according to data from the San Francisco Police Department. The situation does not seem to be improving for small retailers.