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  1. #1
    Coaching Staff Sylar's Avatar
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    San Francisco Homeless

    I've been in San Fran for a week now. It's my fourth time visiting, what is a marvellous city. It's a proper melting pot of cultures, and harbours all sorts of art, culture, cuisine and excellent things to see and do.

    I love this city, and I love visiting it. But deary me, the homeless population here is unlike anything I've ever experienced before, and I can see a clear deterioration since my first visit to the city.

    The past 2 days, I've walked along Market St: a major thoroughfare in the heart of San Francisco. It's more reminiscent of a third world city than the leading tech, finance and artistic hub of the USA.

    I understand that the US defunded the vasy majority of their mental health institutions, and many of those inhabitants have nowhere else to go. And it makes for a horrifically unsettling experience. Homeless people just laying on the sidewalk, uncovered and no protection. People walking around, not mentally present, shouting and bawling at everyone and anyone who passes by. People openly urinating and defacating in the streets. People on the ground utterly drugged up to their eyeballs, with needles often lying beside them. And I know marijuana has now been legalised here, but the overbearing stench of weed that fills that street in particular is just shocking. I passed one person sprawled out, face down at the egde of the pavement - he may well have been dead...who knows.

    I was shocked when I first experienced this when I first visited SF in 2010. But fast forward 8 years and it's undeniably FAR worse now, and far worse than anything I've ever witnessed in the UK. Their local and national governments really have thrown these people to their fate - if you're visiting SF, don't venture much further SW on foot than Market and Mission.


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    Testimonial Due Just Jimmy's Avatar
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    Manchester's homeless problem sounds incredibly similar. I couldn't believe it when I moved here.

    It feels like a losing battle for everyone concerned.

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  4. #3
    @hibs.net private member calumhibee1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylar View Post
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    I've been in San Fran for a week now. It's my fourth time visiting, what is a marvellous city. It's a proper melting pot of cultures, and harbours all sorts of art, culture, cuisine and excellent things to see and do.

    I love this city, and I love visiting it. But deary me, the homeless population here is unlike anything I've ever experienced before, and I can see a clear deterioration since my first visit to the city.

    The past 2 days, I've walked along Market St: a major thoroughfare in the heart of San Francisco. It's more reminiscent of a third world city than the leading tech, finance and artistic hub of the USA.

    I understand that the US defunded the vasy majority of their mental health institutions, and many of those inhabitants have nowhere else to go. And it makes for a horrifically unsettling experience. Homeless people just laying on the sidewalk, uncovered and no protection. People walking around, not mentally present, shouting and bawling at everyone and anyone who passes by. People openly urinating and defacating in the streets. People on the ground utterly drugged up to their eyeballs, with needles often lying beside them. And I know marijuana has now been legalised here, but the overbearing stench of weed that fills that street in particular is just shocking. I passed one person sprawled out, face down at the egde of the pavement - he may well have been dead...who knows.

    I was shocked when I first experienced this when I first visited SF in 2010. But fast forward 8 years and it's undeniably FAR worse now, and far worse than anything I've ever witnessed in the UK. Their local and national governments really have thrown these people to their fate - if you're visiting SF, don't venture much further SW on foot than Market and Mission.
    Always wanted to go to SF but have heard this before. Is it a lot worse than New York? Iíve always noticed a lot of homeless folk there.

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    @hibs.net private member Jack's Avatar
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    I first visited SF in 2003 and have been back 3 times, the last time was last year.

    The first time I went I was advised not to wander around SOMA (South of Market). I did a wee bit during the day. It wasn't a friendly place.

    I was shocked last year. What was SOMA then had spread and was much worse. Market Street was lined with empty shops most had aggressive panhandlers in the doorways. The street was filthy. Many other areas weren't much better.

    For the first time in decades I was concerned for our safety.

    Never say never but I doubt I'll be back.

    And as if all that wasn't bad enough Ghirardelli no longer make the big ingot slabs of chocolate (about 1kg each), my favourite authentic rustic Chinese cafe has become a chrome shrine and my favourite pub had become a blummin bistro!
    Space to let

  6. #5
    I'm like a broken record but....As long as governments continue to use rising house prices as an argument for the economy being strong with no caveats the worse this problem will get. Rising prices but stagnating ownership rates is not a sign of prosperity for the many. Our whole economic model and measurements of it are based on what is good for the wealthy though.

    There are obviously other factors at play with the SF situation but the elephant in the room is that there simply aren't enough suitable homes available to people that need them. Vested personal and politcal interests will ensure that continues as well.
    PM Awards General Poster of The Year 2015, 2016, 2017. Probably robbed in other years

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    @hibs.net private member Bristolhibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylar View Post
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    I've been in San Fran for a week now. It's my fourth time visiting, what is a marvellous city. It's a proper melting pot of cultures, and harbours all sorts of art, culture, cuisine and excellent things to see and do.

    I love this city, and I love visiting it. But deary me, the homeless population here is unlike anything I've ever experienced before, and I can see a clear deterioration since my first visit to the city.

    The past 2 days, I've walked along Market St: a major thoroughfare in the heart of San Francisco. It's more reminiscent of a third world city than the leading tech, finance and artistic hub of the USA.

    I understand that the US defunded the vasy majority of their mental health institutions, and many of those inhabitants have nowhere else to go. And it makes for a horrifically unsettling experience. Homeless people just laying on the sidewalk, uncovered and no protection. People walking around, not mentally present, shouting and bawling at everyone and anyone who passes by. People openly urinating and defacating in the streets. People on the ground utterly drugged up to their eyeballs, with needles often lying beside them. And I know marijuana has now been legalised here, but the overbearing stench of weed that fills that street in particular is just shocking. I passed one person sprawled out, face down at the egde of the pavement - he may well have been dead...who knows.

    I was shocked when I first experienced this when I first visited SF in 2010. But fast forward 8 years and it's undeniably FAR worse now, and far worse than anything I've ever witnessed in the UK. Their local and national governments really have thrown these people to their fate - if you're visiting SF, don't venture much further SW on foot than Market and Mission.
    Was in SF in 2014, and you are right. The amount of homeless, and not just homeless, but clearly mentally ill people just tossed on the heap was staggering.

    J

  8. #7
    Coaching Staff hibsbollah's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear that. San Francisco is one of my two favourite US cities, and back in the late eighties I can't recall seeing many homeless at all.

    There's maybe a specific local issue at play, but there's also no question that there are more people than ever at the bottom of society. I lived away from Edinburgh for fifteen years, and when I came back suddenly there seemed to be more visible homeless and a Harvey Nicks had been built, (which is a bit of an obvious metaphor for something bigger).

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    Quote Originally Posted by hibsbollah View Post
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    Sorry to hear that. San Francisco is one of my two favourite US cities, and back in the late eighties I can't recall seeing many homeless at all.

    There's maybe a specific local issue at play, but there's also no question that there are more people than ever at the bottom of society. I lived away from Edinburgh for fifteen years, and when I came back suddenly there seemed to be more visible homeless and a Harvey Nicks had been built, (which is a bit of an obvious metaphor for something bigger).
    I see very little visible homeless in Edinburgh. Thereís certainly more organised begging, top spots seem to be manned in shifts, but genuine rough sleepers are pretty rare.

    In fact looking at Shelter Scotland stats the homeless numbers are below 1990ís levels and have dramatically reduced on Scotland by almost half over the last 10 years.

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    Coaching Staff hibsbollah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyeSloan View Post
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    I see very little visible homeless in Edinburgh. Thereís certainly more organised begging, top spots seem to be manned in shifts, but genuine rough sleepers are pretty rare.

    In fact looking at Shelter Scotland stats the homeless numbers are below 1990ís levels and have dramatically reduced on Scotland by almost half over the last 10 years.
    Im sceptical about that. Source? In the UK as a whole, there has been a 169% increase in rough sleeping since 2010, eight consecutive yearly rises. That was reported just last month. And that doesn't include 'sofa surfers' who aren't registered as homeless but effectively have nowhere to go.

    And anecdotally as far as Edinburgh goes I can tell you in the number of visible homeless in 2010 when I came back dwarfs what there was in 1992. That's just a fact.

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    San Francisco Homeless

    Quote Originally Posted by hibsbollah View Post
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    Im sceptical about that. Source? In the UK as a whole, there has been a 169% increase in rough sleeping since 2010, eight consecutive yearly rises. That was reported just last month. And that doesn't include 'sofa surfers' who aren't registered as homeless but effectively have nowhere to go.

    And anecdotally as far as Edinburgh goes I can tell you in the number of visible homeless in 2010 when I came back dwarfs what there was in 1992. That's just a fact.
    Here you go: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/hous...s_and_research

    As for visible homeless I would suggest that itís an anecdotal observation rather than a fact

  12. #11
    Coaching Staff hibsbollah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyeSloan View Post
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    Here you go: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/hous...s_and_research

    As for visible homeless I would suggest that itís an anecdotal observation rather than a fact
    That's very interesting, thanks. It does show people declaring themselves homeless has fallen, although as Shelter in Scotland themselves say, 'this is due to the proactive approach taken by local authorities rather than a change to the pressures that result in homelessness'. I did read something about Glasgow policy of finding a house for every homeless person as an official target outcome. Perhaps something Scotland could be proud of.
    The UK wide figure is very different.

    Oh, and anecdotal observations can also be facts

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    @hibs.net private member overdrive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calumhibee1 View Post
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    Always wanted to go to SF but have heard this before. Is it a lot worse than New York? Iíve always noticed a lot of homeless folk there.
    It is in a different league to New York both in terms of relative volume (I wouldnít be surprised if NYC has an absolute bigger number of homeless due to its size) and the aggressiveness of the people involved.

    Between my wife and I, weíve explored the States quite a bit over the years. We visited several places in the States as part of our honeymoon in 2014, including San Fran. My wife had been before and noticed a deterioration in the situation from a few years prior to this. It is the only place in the States that Iíve felt genuinely worried about our safety. I would think nothing of using the NY Subway late at night. I wouldnít even think about using the BART at night.

    There was an incident when we were queuing for a breakfast place just off Market Street one morning whereby a homeless woman manhandled the people behind us in the queue. Another homeless man thankfully intervened and managed to get her away but it was very close to turning really nasty.

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    Coaching Staff hibsbollah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overdrive View Post
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    It is in a different league to New York both in terms of relative volume (I wouldnít be surprised if NYC has an absolute bigger number of homeless due to its size) and the aggressiveness of the people involved.

    Between my wife and I, weíve explored the States quite a bit over the years. We visited several places in the States as part of our honeymoon in 2014, including San Fran. My wife had been before and noticed a deterioration in the situation from a few years prior to this. It is the only place in the States that Iíve felt genuinely worried about our safety. I would think nothing of using the NY Subway late at night. I wouldnít even think about using the BART at night.

    There was an incident when we were queuing for a breakfast place just off Market Street one morning whereby a homeless woman manhandled the people behind us in the queue. Another homeless man thankfully intervened and managed to get her away but it was very close to turning really nasty.
    That's sad. I used to get the BART every morning from Pacifica and it seemed clean fast and safe to me back then.

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    @hibs.net private member overdrive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hibsbollah View Post
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    That's sad. I used to get the BART every morning from Pacifica and it seemed clean fast and safe to me back then.
    Just to give the other side as well though...

    One of our friends moved to SF the day after we left to work for Facebook and has been there ever since (coming on 4 years) and she loves it as a place to live. Iím not sure if it is a case of becoming immune to your surroundings over time though.

    Also hands down, the best food weíve had in the US was in SF.

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    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hibrandenburg's Avatar
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    I've done a couple of tours in the US and generally I've loved it. The big cities however I've hated. The contrast between have and have not is wider in the US than anywhere else in the world. I found San Francisco to be relatively harmless compared to places like Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Washington DC and worst of all Atlantic City. We have poverty in Europe but nothing compared to over there.

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    I believe that opiate addiction has contributed to a rise in homelessness/ destitute persons in SF and elsewhere over the past 8 years (as referenced in the OP). Additionally, the city has a reputation for tolerance and some individuals have made their way there because of that. Cost of housing and mental health (non addiction) are strong contributors that date back decades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hibsbollah View Post
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    That's very interesting, thanks. It does show people declaring themselves homeless has fallen, although as Shelter in Scotland themselves say, 'this is due to the proactive approach taken by local authorities rather than a change to the pressures that result in homelessness'. I did read something about Glasgow policy of finding a house for every homeless person as an official target outcome. Perhaps something Scotland could be proud of.
    The UK wide figure is very different.

    Oh, and anecdotal observations can also be facts
    House First or something like that is the policy...ironically originating from the States I think.

    It uses the revolutionary concept of putting a homeless or rough sleeper into a house first then assisting them in dealing with their problems. Seems this is more successful than the previous approach of not giving them a house and trying to sort their problems out first....who would have thunk that!

    So you are saying that itís a fact that anecdotal observations are indeed a fact? 🤪

    Anyway the OP paints a rather depressing picture of SF but thankfully a number of Scottish Governments (both Labour and SNP) have actually given rough sleeping and homelessness some reasonably good policies and funding here. We even seem to have achieved some joined up thinking on the ground as well so thankfully itís a problem that, while one is always too many, does seem to at least get some attention.

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    @hibs.net private member calumhibee1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibrandenburg View Post
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    I've done a couple of tours in the US and generally I've loved it. The big cities however I've hated. The contrast between have and have not is wider in the US than anywhere else in the world. I found San Francisco to be relatively harmless compared to places like Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Washington DC and worst of all Atlantic City. We have poverty in Europe but nothing compared to over there.
    Aye, Miami and New York are the only two Iíve been to out the cities youve listed but the disparity in wealth distribution is so evident. Homeless guys with very obvious mental health problems on Miami Beach living off the water out of coconuts in 35 degree heat and eating out of bins etc.
    Last edited by calumhibee1; 27-03-2018 at 07:07 AM.

  20. #19
    Coaching Staff Sylar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibrandenburg View Post
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    I've done a couple of tours in the US and generally I've loved it. The big cities however I've hated. The contrast between have and have not is wider in the US than anywhere else in the world. I found San Francisco to be relatively harmless compared to places like Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Washington DC and worst of all Atlantic City. We have poverty in Europe but nothing compared to over there.
    Having been to Detroit and Chicago, I can fully appreciate what you're saying. Abject poverty there is truly abhorrent.

    I think the San Francisco case is a little different, as many of the people that are on the street should be in mental health facilities that simply don't exist.

    I absolutely agree that poverty in the UK pales in comparison to some of what I've witnessed over here.

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    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hibrandenburg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylar View Post
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    Having been to Detroit and Chicago, I can fully appreciate what you're saying. Abject poverty there is truly abhorrent.

    I think the San Francisco case is a little different, as many of the people that are on the street should be in mental health facilities that simply don't exist.

    I absolutely agree that poverty in the UK pales in comparison to some of what I've witnessed over here.
    I've just started watching "The Walking Dead" and can't shake the feeling it was influenced by a visit to Atlantic City. The streets surrounding the Strip are some of the scariest you're ever likely to encounter.

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    @hibs.net private member Bristolhibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibrandenburg View Post
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    I've just started watching "The Walking Dead" and can't shake the feeling it was influenced by a visit to Atlantic City. The streets surrounding the Strip are some of the scariest you're ever likely to encounter.
    Boardwalk Empire made me want to go to AC.

    Having a wander around on Google Maps, has made me not want to.

    It looks grim. Only redeeming feature seems to be the casinos, and if you are after that, go to Vegas.

    J

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bristolhibby View Post
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    Boardwalk Empire made me want to go to AC.

    Having a wander around on Google Maps, has made me not want to.

    It looks grim. Only redeeming feature seems to be the casinos, and if you are after that, go to Vegas.

    J
    I went to Atlantic City for my birthday last year in July. Had a fantastic weekend, it's a great place, beach is beautiful, good food etc.

    But don't leave the boardwalk.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Haymaker View Post
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    I went to Atlantic City for my birthday last year in July. Had a fantastic weekend, it's a great place, beach is beautiful, good food etc.

    But don't leave the boardwalk.
    We went to SF December 16 for the first time. Lovely city overall but totally agree with comments about the homeless. I get the impression, and was told by locals, other US states use SF as a dumping ground.
    Lots of Mission type places around our hotel, a Hilton on OíFarrell St not far from Union Square.

    Donít go to the Edinburgh Rock bar by the way, something out of Trainspotting!

    LA and Skid Row was just the same.

    AC was cool for a week a few years back. Boardwalk area good but go back a couple of blocks and itís very different.

    Like others have said, US and UK homeless/poverty generally very different.


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    @hibs.net private member Jack's Avatar
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    Are these guys that live on the streets allowed to carry guns?

    I thought about it when I was there but didn't ask.

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    @hibs.net private member Bristolhibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    Are these guys that live on the streets allowed to carry guns?

    I thought about it when I was there but didn't ask.
    Do you not have to have an address to register to?

    J

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bristolhibby View Post
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    Do you not have to have an address to register to?

    J
    I doubt homeless people look for guns through legal routes.

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    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hibrandenburg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    Are these guys that live on the streets allowed to carry guns?

    I thought about it when I was there but didn't ask.
    I'd imagine many of them were gun owners before they fell on hard times. Who knows how many of them kept hold of their guns as their world started collapsing round about them.

  29. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    Are these guys that live on the streets allowed to carry guns?

    I thought about it when I was there but didn't ask.
    They would need a concealed carry permit which probably requires a home address on the application.

    San Francisco and West Coast Cities in general have political populations more sympathetic to the homeless and better weather. A number of cities in other states send homeless individuals on one way tickets to California via bus.

    In other news. London murder rate exceeds that of New York. No guns in London so they must be bludgeoning each other to death.

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    Coaching Staff Sylar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenLake View Post
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    They would need a concealed carry permit which probably requires a home address on the application.

    San Francisco and West Coast Cities in general have political populations more sympathetic to the homeless and better weather. A number of cities in other states send homeless individuals on one way tickets to California via bus.

    In other news. London murder rate exceeds that of New York. No guns in London so they must be bludgeoning each other to death.
    I took my boss (who'd never been to SF) a bit of a whistle stop tour yesterday around the city when we were up visiting from Palo Alto. I deliberately avoided Market etc, but he was staggered by how bad it was in the 'tourist' areas.

    We encountered some absolutely gone individuals, including a couple (?) wearing tin foil hats (genuinely), with one of them licking the wall of the building and the other guy down on all fours licking the pavement yelling at her to "make sure it's clean"...it sounds like I'm trying to be humerous with that anecdote, but I'm absolutely not. The funny incident was when we were walking along Embarcadero, and some guy rollerbladed past us wearing nothing but a top hat and a small sock-like pouch covering his Johnson...

    I think you're correct that the weather is undoubtedly a factor. I've heard the stories about the one-way bus tickets too - quite a sad state of affairs all around.

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    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hibrandenburg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenLake View Post
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    San Francisco and West Coast Cities in general have political populations more sympathetic to the homeless and better weather. A number of cities in other states send homeless individuals on one way tickets to California via bus.



    Quote Originally Posted by Sylar View Post
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    I took my boss (who'd never been to SF) a bit of a whistle stop tour yesterday around the city when we were up visiting from Palo Alto. I deliberately avoided Market etc, but he was staggered by how bad it was in the 'tourist' areas.

    We encountered some absolutely gone individuals, including a couple (?) wearing tin foil hats (genuinely), with one of them licking the wall of the building and the other guy down on all fours licking the pavement yelling at her to "make sure it's clean"...it sounds like I'm trying to be humerous with that anecdote, but I'm absolutely not. The funny incident was when we were walking along Embarcadero, and some guy rollerbladed past us wearing nothing but a top hat and a small sock-like pouch covering his Johnson...

    I think you're correct that the weather is undoubtedly a factor. I've heard the stories about the one-way bus tickets too - quite a sad state of affairs all around.
    If the one way bus ticket story is true then that's outrageous, I can't imagine that that could be an official policy.

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