The people who are truly homeless in San Fran will take no for an answer. You have to watch out for the people who are not homeless but are still standing around on the street corner. They are the ones that are stealing cell phones out of peoples hands. They are the ones that are openly selling drugs at the Civic Center or stolen merchandise.
I can not believe that these people are allowed to just stand there for hours preying on people that walk by on the street. I thought there were No loitering laws which prevented people from doing that kind of thing. I guess those laws are not in place in San Fran.
Its not the homeless that are after you, its those other people just standing on the street waiting for you to not pay attention so they can take something from you.
Warning: there have been mass sightings of tourist collisions with humanity in San Francisco. "Normal" people have arrived to the city and are shocked by finding out San Francisco is not a victorian haven for white gay men and wealthy tech-based families. To avoid humanity, you should jump into the bay, not take any public transit, and don't go into a shop or a restaurant. If you want to avoid people in San Francisco, you'll need to have as much money as possible because the city is extremely small, yet there are human beings and trees everywhere. You never know if there might be a vagrant sleeping up in those cypresses! TO BE SAFE, you should get a hotel in the highest building available and if you *must* leave the hotel and don't wish to be hassled, then your best way to keep safe is not to avoid, as there is no way of avoiding the humanity in SF, but you should try to assimilate perhaps by acting like a normal human being. You should be surprised that there are so many homeless and minority persons because you were expecting opulence, but you should now know that in capitalist cities, there is only the ideology of wealth, and the reality of poverty. Good luck, and use compassion not ignorance.
I read through a lot of the stuff here about the homeless situation in San Francisco. Yes, we have a bad problem. Most of the homeless come here from other cities, by the way. I guess they like the climate, eh? I have lived here for 70 years and have NEVER had a bad experience with a homeless person! I worked for years downtown on Union Square and never had a problem. The city has a non-aggression law regarding panhandlers. If they get aggressive, they can be arrested and they do get arrested. I guess most of them are on drugs, alcohol etc, but they will ask for money and I just smile at them and say, "Sorry, not today" and move on. This business of not making eye contact is silly. These are human beings and down on their luck either due to their own making (drugs and alcohol) or bad circumstances. As for areas not to go into, there are some, but I doubt that tourists would go to those areas anyway as there is nothing to do or see in them. The one area that should be avoided that does happen to be within 15 or 29 minutes walking time is the area known as the Tenderloin. But again, nothing to see or do there that would tempt a tourist. Relax, use commons sense as you would in any large city and enjoy beautiful San Francisco. It is unique in America!
Look, I lived in the heart of the city for years and here's what you do. First, don't dress fancy and flash cash and cell phones on the street. Second... hear me on this one... when the bums hit you up for cash just look them dead in the eye and say "Sorry man, I'm tapped" or "I'm broke", put on a sad face, act like you have no money, shrug your shoulders and walk away. Don't be rude, just make them believe that your in their boat and finish the encounter quick. Don't oversell it. Just go!
I was very poor when I lived the city, I lived in a bad neighborhood and I was telling the truth when I would say I was broke. I've said "Im tapped" so many times that to this day it automatically comes out of my mouth whenever I'm hit up for cash. Just make eye contact, tell them "sorry" and your "tapped" and keep moving. You have things to do and places to go. If they keep it up just ask them to give YOU a dollar because your as broke as they are. One time I actually had a guy give me a dollar. LOL!
Most bums will just give up and move on. And yes... I call them "bums". I've stepped in more bum crap than I can count, been panhandled thousands of times, broken into seven times in one year so yes... I've earned the right to call them "bums". And I really hate when liberal crybabies try to correct me. I lived in the heart of bum central and walked alone at night, every night, for years. One thing I learned was that you don't need to give up your safety because you have some overwhelming guilt because your more blessed then they are. It is what it is. Stay safe.
If you're going on a tour of San Francisco city or Bay Area in consideration of relocating, & are hoping to meet young, warm & friendly locals to bond & build lasting relationships with, you're going to be seriously disappointed. San Francisco Bay Area residents have their own character now, much like New Yorkers, but have a much more anti-social lean to them. 3+ decades of exposure to wealthy, sociopathic businesses owners & managers from booming business in Silicon Valley & Wine Country, as well as a now large population of influential, callous & predatory upper-class, has turned the Bay Area community, a once highly progressive group of individuals, into a group constantly questioning its own identity. With rents sky-rocketing throughout much of the Urban areas, most of the middle-class have been pushed out. The few individuals that have managed to hold on have been jaded by the spurning populace of holier-than-thou upper-class.
The culture of progressivism has managed to hold on in a business-sense, where there's literally hundreds if not thousands of nonprofit organizations throughout the Bay Area. But the progressive culture on a community level is only a hallow shell of what it once was. Gone are the days of free love, where kindness and compassion were the community's unwritten laws. All of it has been replaced with severe insecurity, constant fear of judgement, & fear of being ostracized. People who once embraced each other now keep each other at arm's length, & empathy has been thrown out the window. Where once love & respect for each other were touted, power & fear are now honored instead. The Golden Rule, once a tenant of the counter culture & civil rights movement, has since been replaced by the ideas of controlling people with resources--social, cultural, sexual & fiscal. The fear of having them taken away considered the ideal means of keeping people in-line.
What remains of the progressive culture are only the superficial elements--drum circles, vegan diets, poetry readings, faux environmentalism, etc. Progressivism has become the empty, meaningless pop-culture of the Bay Area. Protests of human rights violations are common, but San Franciscans have, on a interpersonal level, long since abandoned what it means to be a progressive. They have become victims of not practicing what they preach.
If phoniness, insecurity, callousness, narcissism, judgementalism & unreliability, paired with extreme self-entitlement issues & inability to form close, personal relationships are what you look for in a community. And if you're a straight male, sexual frustration & starvation and, if you're a straight or bi female, being fought over by men like an unopened bottle of Evian found by a few survivors dying of thirst on a desert island, is your idea of positive social dynamics, then I would recommend San Francisco city & Bay Area to you. To everyone else I would say stay far, far away.
The most honest advice one can give about visiting SF..... don't look like a tourist. Dress like you live here, walk like you live here, don't walk around with a map in your face, and have some common sense. If you cant handle that, stick to pier 39.
Outside of the cable cars (which were a fantastic experience) I would be very reluctant to take public transportation around SF, especially with the wife. Being a liberal environment is part of the charm that makes SF what it is, but the downside is the city tolerates a lot of bad behavior. We had a bad experience on a light rail ride that nearly ruined the entire weekend for us. Jam-packed on a public transport near a mentally disturbed person getting out of control (verbally cussing and making threats to other passengers, including kids) for stop-after-stop is not our idea of fun.
I may consider using public transport in SF again, but not during busy times i.e. packed busses and trains. We were literally trapped in a light rail car for quite a while with a violent person and the attendant did nothing. Many of the busses we saw were jam-packed as well. To some this may be 'adventure' but for us it was stress and that's exactly what we were trying to get away from with the trip to SF.
I notice a lot of people sharing the advice "Ignore them. Stare straight ahead. Make no eye contact" when regarding homeless/street people.
Ok, I think this is naive advice for a lot of reasons. Rather than explaining to you why this is naive (if not just bastardly) I'll tell you what I do to survive my stays in the city.
First of all, be aware. Obvious right? I mean, really, be aware. Don't be afraid. Be aware. There's a difference.
Fit in with your scene. Adapt to it. Don't be stiff. Don't be nervous. Even if you see a group of the scary homeless people. Its not really a different planet. To someone who hasn't traveled much or spent a lot of time in cities, it can seem like a different planet, but try not to view it that way. Its not Disneyland and you're not a child. Act natural, and that's the surest way to keep a low profile. (Yes, keeping a low-profile is necessary to your safety)
Which brings me to the next topic; clothing and accessories! Yay! Dress casual if you don't want to attract those pesky beggars. Ladies, if you don't want hoots and hollers [or maybe even a few stray grabs here n there] dress like a lady. Not a loose college gal.
Don't show money, gadgets, or jewelry. I know you want to wear your cutest jewelry, but if you decide to do so, just recognize the risks. If you want to use your gadgets or count your money, at least attempt to be discreet. That way no one will be tempted to try and steal your things (which could cost you your life in some scenarios)
Men and women both ought to carry Mace or Pepper Spray. It is nifty, efficient, and non-lethal in the case of a bad encounter.
Eye contact is okay. Just don't be a prick about it.
I don't know who started this rumor that "ignoring" homeless people makes everything better. It is what collectively makes things very very much worse. Let me explain. See, first of all, it can endanger YOUR safety (which is obviously a priority) because you never know when you'll be the lucky winner of the psychotic-episode-award. That sudden moment when your cold shoulder just so happens to be the cold shoulder that breaks someone's will to survive. Just the last straw for that person who's been ignored all day (possibly all his/her life)..
If I was homeless, the first person I'd kill/mug/sexually assault (assuming homeless people love doing these things) would be someone giving me the cold-shoulder. The jack-off who is so far-removed from reality that he thinks not looking is going to save his life trouble/time/money. Like a child believing hiding his head under the blanket will protect him from the monsters in the shadows. Like wearing a dainty chain and cross around your neck will save your vile soul. Its really rather a display of ignorance, and ignorance makes you a target on the street. Ignorance is is typically displayed in one of two ways; anger or fear. (and all the variations of those emotions) Homeless people pick up on anger and fear in a jiffy. Ignorance of street life, and lack of a healthy balance between empathy and reason, is your most likely undoing.
Collectively, this ignorance destroys the fabric of our culture, but that probably doesn't concern you. However, if you'd like to take a moment to meditate on it, feel free. It would probably do you some good to meditate on this before entering a city full of sick people anywhere in the world. Certainly, if applied properly, this bit of philosophy could save your ass one day.
P.S. I'm not religious, but I really wonder if any of the people who say"Ignore them" believe in Jesus. Just saying.... _
I'm a 19-year-old female who survived living on the streets of San Francisco after escaping from slavery in Oakland, having been kept in the sex trade for six years. Think on that next time you feel a strong urge to ignore a dirty ***ty violent annoying bum.
Chau sweet-heart! Enjoy your stay!
I hadn't been in San Francisco since I lived there years ago and I was stunned at the seriousness of the homelessness problem. They were everywhere and I mean everywhere. They are aggressive and dangerous. I saw several confrontations between them and many of them were seriously mentally ill. I could not stop on a corner without one sidling up to me. I cannot believe the city has allowed the problem to get this bad. They are thick on Fisherman's Wharf as well.
The most important thing to do is not look at them or acknowledge them because if you do, they will follow or harass you and at least ask you for money or cigarettes. Just keep a steady gate and stay detached. They capitalize on people who show them any decency. Shame on the city for putting the homeless over the safety of its tourists and citizens.
Avoid Market Street. In particular avoid the entire area between about Sutter Street and Market. It's simply not safe. Homeless people are often mentally ill and violent not to mention drunk and high. Funny though, you won't find them in China town because the residents there won't put up with them I'm sure.
This is not really a warning of any kind, nor is it a danger, but I could not help but remark on the large numbers of homeless people in this city, especially around the area of Union Square where we stayed and also the Beach Road area.
I found them more noticeable at night when they all seem to appear and shout greetings to each other. It looked to me as if many of them were quite well taken care of - warmly dressed and many in up to the minute motorised wheelchairs. I have to be honest and say that it made me feel a bit anxious at night as we are just not used to that at home.
We just got back from a few days in San Francisco. We stayed downtown on 4th street. I wanted to go and take advantage of the wonderful shopping but did not most days because of the homeless in the area. They were aggressive, stunk, exposed themselves and generally a terrible nuisance. Probably will avoid San Francisco in the future. I would never bring my minor children there!
be very cautious of the homeless and bums on mission street especially mission and 16th not to long ago me and a couple of my marine buddies were walking by just to get a cheap burrito while doing so we were approached by a hippie homeless bum he came up to us and asked us if we had a spare of change because he wanted to get something to eat i offered him my chips and tacos and he yelled at me and he yelled at my marine buddy calling us all sort of foul names so at that point i kinda had it with him and i basically told him to *** off or we will call the cops and he just left most of these pan handlers are just bums who dont wanna get jobs plz dont give anyone any money in san francisco they don't have my sympathy they shouldn't have yours there is a lot of help they can go to if they were really "homelesses" they are not homeless i think they are just ignorant hippies trying to scam ppl especially the tourist and becareful at night on mission lots of street walkers bums druggies and 16th and market tends to be a gang territory for the surenos try to avoid that place at night if you are a woman by yourself if you are a man you should be safe aslong as a) you are not in a gang. which i hope you are not cause its stupid. and b.) just avoid it if possible be safe and enjoy san francisco
they all congregate in the haight ashbury area, and they sit on the street, screaming for attention and condemning you if you don't give them money for drugs and dogfood. i have empathy for people who are obviously unable to support themselves and are living on the street, but zero tolerance for a young person who lives on the street when he/she is healthy enough and smart enough to get a job. i have to work hard to survive in this expensive city, and i'm not giving it away to a person who wears a rebel jacket.
I found that the homeless people in San Francisco were the most aggressive and forward that I've came across anywhere. It didn't bother me that much as i was in a group of four guys near enough all the time but I could see how intimidating this could be for some people. We had them following us down the street and even shouting at us when we didn't give them money. My advice would be just to say a polite "no" and "sorry" when they ask for money and keep walking if you don't want to give them anything.
San Francisco. Same story as with Danny Greene, but going by Danny Bluestone as of 1/10/2008. "Melting pot", "played bass for Tina Turner". Watch out for the light blue eyes. The guy is like Hypnotoad. Don't give him any money.