I strongly support recalling Chesa Boudin as a necessary step to make our neighborhood and our city safer.
No one in the Richmond District can look in the mirror and honestly tell themselves that crime is down in their neighborhood. Just walk down any business corridor and ask shopkeepers which shops have been burglarized or vandalized recently. The answer you’ll get is “most of them.” Or, pick a block on any random avenue and ask residents which garages, homes and cars have been burglarized and neighbors will immediately point to an array of homes.
Small business burglaries and smashed windows have become a daily phenomenon and the open shoplifting buffets that our grocery and drug stores have become are evident to anyone who spends more than 10 minutes inside one. Some neighbors even report they’ve stopped shopping in our business corridors, because of the crime, filthy conditions and unpredictable dangers presented by the influx of drug users splayed across sidewalks and doorways. Some neighbors have just decided to move out of SF. Armed home invasions, sideshows with gunfire, and dangerous car chase now frequent the local police blotter. Moreover, dozens of tourists are being robbed daily of their belongings, many at gunpoint. To a person, they all say the same thing: “I’m not coming back to San Francisco.”
Some neighbors casually dismiss the wave of property, quality-of-life-crime, vandalism, smash and grabs and shoplifting as victimless, harmless crimes. “Insurance will cover it,” is a common refrain. But insurance doesn’t cover or heal the sense of violation, terror and decreased safety that victims experience. Nor does it reduce the anxiety of grocery and drugstore workers, who tell me they are scared that the daily shoplifting losses will lead to layoffs or reduced hours. For immigrant restaurant owners, a smashed shop window is a $1,000+ deductible expense they can’t afford. As a beloved, busy local small business owner on Clement St. admitted to me recently, “being burglarized numerous times has me on the brink. I have a family to feed. I may have to shut down.” And insurance surely doesn’t bring traumatized tourists back to our city.
Being a victim of crime has become the new normal in our neighborhood. Anyone who’s lived here long enough knows that things are deteriorating, and it doesn’t have to be this way.
Yes, the pandemic has shifted many things in our city, including crime, but the biggest change that we can pinpoint and correlate to the dramatic crime increase is DA Chesa Boudin. A scapegoat for everything bad happening? No. But his policies and priorities have made our city and neighborhood demonstrably much less safe in a relatively short amount of time.
Open-air drug dealing continues unabated at devastating levels due to Boudin’s refusal to prosecute drug dealers. Violent and repeat criminals are now routed to diversion justice programs that were never designed to handle the volume or severity of their crimes. Boudin dissolved gang and car break-in units of the DA’s office. He claims that he files charges in most cases, but a closer look reveals that charges are usually dropped or lessened substantially. Moreover, Boudin has fostered an adversarial, toxic relationship with SFPD (the officers he’s supposed to partner with to reduce crime). This chaotic mix has produced predictable results. Crime has spiked because Chesa simply doesn’t believe in three important elements of criminal justice: deterrents, accountability, and consequences.
We all believe in criminal justice reform, rehabilitation, reducing mass incarceration, and addressing the root causes of crime. All are priorities worthy of our time, energy and investment. But Chesa’s one-sided experiment to solve these problems from the DA’s desk by eliminating strong, effective, competent prosecution from the equation has left our criminal justice system totally unbalanced with essentially what amounts to two Public Defender’s offices. It’s a welcome mat for those bent on doing harm in our community.
Let’s restore balance and start on a path to a safer neighborhood and city. I encourage my neighbors to Vote Yes on H and recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin on June 7th.
Categories: letter to the editor