California Suicide Watch, Part 2

Last we checked in on California circling the drain (which I’m rechristening here as our “California Suicide Watch”), we passed along the story of Sharky Laguana (yes, that’s his real name) and his frustration with the San Francisco police who were unwilling to lend him any assistance to recover a van stolen from his rental fleet. I don’t know whether our mention helped or not (Sharky’s tweetstorm went viral), but the San Francisco Chronicle has followed up with a story about how it got the attention of city leaders:

In truth, police refused to help him at all — even an officer across the street from the parked van wouldn’t offer assistance. But the cunning Laguana did get his van back.

Within a week, Laguana’s story, which read like the world’s shortest thriller, had been retweeted nearly 1,000 times and had attracted the attention of city leaders, who know their constituents are beyond frustrated by car break-ins, homelessness and the collective shrug residents so often get from San Francisco police.

And it’s already getting some action.

Assemblyman Phil Ting has introduced a placeholder bill in the state Legislature related to Laguana’s story, though what the legislation will include remains to be seen.

Well, that’s not much action, and given the way Sacramento works these days, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the “placeholder” bill turn into a fillip for more high speed rail or something.

But the next story that is going to leave a mark comes from the local NBC TV news affiliate, which called their report “Diseased Streets“:

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit surveyed 153 blocks of downtown San Francisco in search of trash, needles, and feces. The investigation revealed trash littered across every block. The survey also found 41 blocks dotted with needles and 96 blocks sullied with piles of feces.

The story included this telling chart of the trends:

Read the whole story for more detail about how futile are the city’s efforts to clean the streets, and how they may need to—wait for it—raise taxes on business to spend more money on homelessness.

This part especially stands out: NBC spoke with Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert at University of California, Berkeley. And:

Based on the findings of the Investigative Unit survey, Riley believes parts of the city may be even dirtier than slums in some developing countries.

“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India,” he said. He notes that in those countries, slum dwellings are often long-term homes for families and so there is an attempt to make the surroundings more livable. Homeless communities in San Francisco, however, are often kicked out from one part of town and forced to relocate to another. The result is extreme contamination, according to Riley.

The city of Nancy Pelosi, California’s current governor, and likely next governor. Reserve your U-Haul van now. Oh, wait:

Chaser: Great, just what California needs

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