Former SF Mayor Says City He Governed Now Allows Too Much To Occur On Streets.

Does your city have a large homeless population? A large drug problem?  Most larger cities in the United States have concerns with how to deal with increasing numbers of people living on the streets and when that is combined with habitual drug use, it just creates more strife.

California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom is looking back at San Francisco, a city he served as mayor for seven years (2004-2011), and saying the city has become “too permissive” when it comes to what they allow to happen on the streets. He cites open drug use a one of the main issues.

“People shooting up on the streets and sidewalks, where kids are in strollers, is not acceptable — it’s just not,” Newsom said during a visit to The Chronicle’s editorial board last week. –

Why is Newsom addressing San Francisco policy now? It is mainly because his Republican opponent John Cox has been reviving Newson's time as mayor of San Francisco  and questioning his leadership during that time.  Was it the foundation of how the city is today?

But what do you humanely do? When I was writing the opening paragraph I wanted to say homeless problem, but I felt that was too much like blaming the homeless for the problem, when there are many reasons, societal reasons, why people are living on the streets.

But how much do you allow?  How much does a and can a city turn its gaze away from people living on the streets, out in the open?

If you have been to San Francisco, you cannot avoid the issue.  The homeless population is undeniable, unavoidable, and seems too large to handle. You personally do witness the drug use, people shooting up as you walk by, someone dressed only in a blanket defecating over a sewer grid, and so on.  I have had friends that live there break down on the phone while talking to me as they describe what they are seeing on the streets.

Newsom says there is plenty of blame to go around but that his “enough is enough” view came from spending time on the streets with one of the San Francisco homeless outreach teams that deals with opioid users and others on a daily basis.Newsom said he was particularly struck by the comments of two Homeless Outreach Team members who are former drug users.

“The points they made are that the city is too lenient, too complicit as it relates to drug use out on the streets, and unless that changes they don’t think injection sites alone will, quote-unquote, solve the issue,” Newsom said, referring to Mayor London Breed’s push to create medically monitored centers for drug users to shoot up.

While Newsom said he is “very, very open” to the idea of safe injection centers, he questions their effectiveness. –

Newsom had some good and bad press when he was known as a very progressive mayor
  • opened the doors to same-sex marriage.
  • a “Care Not Cash” initiative, which offered the homeless care and supportive housing instead of direct cash aid from the state’s general assistance.
  • supported panhandling restrictions
  • early supporter of Proposition 47, measure that reduced penalties for many drug and theft offenses.

It's been 8 years since he as been away from being the mayor of San Francisco.  If he was mayor again, what would he change?

Newsom told us that while he doesn’t support felony prosecution for most drug offenses, he does support enforcing the law when it comes to quality-of-life crimes such as public drunkenness or defecating on the streets.

“You can be too permissive, and I happen to think we have crossed that threshold in this state — and not just in this city,” Newsom said. “You see it. It’s just disgraceful.” –

For more on Newson, his past policies, his hopes and suggestions for the city today, and his race to be the next governor of California, see the coverage over at the San Francisco Chronicle.

h/t:, Golden Gate Bridge photo from

2 thoughts on “Former SF Mayor Says City He Governed Now Allows Too Much To Occur On Streets.”

  1. I love SF, but the homeless

    I love SF, but the homeless make it totally a non-starter for me. New York has its fair share of homeless on the streets, and it's getting worse thanks to an idiotic and ineffective mayor. But at least they aren't aggressive like the ones you'll find in SF. 

  2. Wow; talk about tacking back

    Wow; talk about tacking back towards the center. This is not news. I've witnessed San Francisco's problems with homelessness and drug use since I first visited in the late 1980s. … There are some rational things that could be done to address these problems. If you don't like people relieving themelves in the streets, how's about installing self-cleaning toilets throughout the city?  What about shelters, subsidized housing, child care, and jobs (with training) for the homeless; and/or mental health facilities if it comes to that? You know, things that civil societies which have grown beyond asking "are there no prisons? are there no workhouses?" might do. But no, Scrooge Newson claims to listen to a couple of recovered addicts so that he can argue that a city he once presided over has become too lenient and preach tough love as the solution. Bah, humbug!


Leave a Comment