Leaving More Than Your Heart In San Francisco – Homelessness And Filth In Major Cities

“The Streets of San Francisco” was a popular police detective show of the 1970s that was actually filmed on its city streets.  It starred the late Karl Malden and a young Michael Douglas.  Today, in walking those same streets, Douglas would probably devote more attention to where he was stepping than to his script.

There are two cities on America’s west coast sharing common problems: San Francisco and Seattle.  Both are centers of liberal thought and governance.  And, both currently are experiencing homeless problems that have generated national headlines for what is being left behind.

In 1962, Tony Bennett released the song, “I Left my Heart in San Francisco.”  Today, the 92-year old crooner would be singing a different tune about what is being left behind on city streets: human waste—and it is a problem both there and in Seattle due to the large homeless population.

Ten years ago, King County—where Seattle is located—declared it would end homelessness in a decade.  While homelessness has decreased elsewhere in the state, it has increased in Seattle.

While San Francisco is awash in human waste, author Sam Faddis explains why.  The problem is one that has been self-inflicted by the local government for imposing building codes that leave little room for housing expansion.  And, where limited expansion does exist, it is simply not cost effective for builders to undertake.  The result is 7500 homeless people roaming the city streets, using them as bathrooms.  A California infectious disease scientist “characterizes the level of contamination on the streets of San Francisco as greater than that he has seen in Brazil and Kenya.”

Irresponsible liberal-minded activists, both within San Francisco’s government and without, have proven unable to foresee the consequences of their actions, contributing to the housing problem.  Meanwhile, in Seattle, ridiculous social activism under the banner of political correctness has taken a giant step forward, contributing to the problem of cleaning up what others have left behind.

Last year, Seattle judges complained about sidewalks marred by piles of human excrement encountered while walking to their courthouse, apparently hindering their ability to smell the roses.  The source of the problem was a nearby homeless shelter which, as the Seattle Times reported, created an “unsanitary and potentially frightening” scene—one “that reeks of urine and excrement.”  After two judges reasonably requested that the sidewalks be power-washed, a cleanup effort was initiated.

However, local Councilmember Larry Gossett complained about the solution.  An African-American, Gossett claimed power-washing might be a racially insensitive microaggression.  How so?  He said, he “didn’t like the idea of power-washing the sidewalks because it brought back images of the use of hoses against civil-rights activists.”  This is social activism insanity.  Gossett’s complaint seemed more focused on blowing his social activism horn as, unsurprisingly, he offered no reasonable alternative.

Perhaps Gossett would prefer a solution San Francisco tried—painting an area with hydrophobic paint that causes urine to bounce back on public urinators, making a mess on their own pants and shoes.

Interestingly, just like maps are made available to visitors in San Francisco marking tourist sites, three years ago a project known as (Human) Wasteland began that seeks to map reports of human waste throughout the city.  Meanwhile, it is a shocking statistic to learn that San Francisco’s “Tenderloin” district has only five public restrooms.  This district is repeatedly described in most tourist maps as “the worst neighborhood in San Francisco” as it is home to drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and mentally unstable street people.  However, a heavy influx of Vietnamese immigrants appears to be giving the district a facelift.

Thousands of miles away, another major city has, for centuries, had the same stinking problem.  With a lack of public toilets, generations of Parisian men have relieved themselves on city streets and buildings.  Recently, officials introduced a trial-run solution, installing “uritrottoirs” along the tourist-friendly Ile St. Louis, in the middle of the Seine River.  These are open-air, eco-friendly urinals, looking like bright red trash cans. However local residents and business owners complain about the urinals being right outside their establishments.  One of the installation locations provides a user relief while gazing upon the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

San Francisco has now activated “poop patrols” that will apparently seek out human waste on the streets to deposit appropriately.  This, obviously, focuses on cutting down on complaints rather than solving the problem.  It is a solution not dissimilar from focusing on cleaning up an oil spill without plugging up the leak from which it emanates.

San Francisco and Seattle’s liberal leadership are guilty of human waste mismanagement.  It would be good to see them devote time and energy on an effective resolution.  A good start would be providing sufficient public access toilets and adequate homeless facilities.  At least it would demonstrate they give a crap.