While there are bucketloads and bucketloads of reviews complaining about the homeless problem and the bushman :D, I'd like to take it one step further.
1. Don't buy drugs from anyone on Haight St. I know your mom told you not to.
2. Don' t think you should buy fake ID's on Mission Street. Also don't tell your friends you will meet them on Mission Street. Something bad might happen to you if you wait too long on the sidewalk in Mission looking lost and confused.
3. Don't pick up hookers on Capp Street. LOL. Actually, not too many hookers on that street. They seem to have moved east a bit.
4. The Italian food in North Beach is not made better by it being in a historically Italian neighborhood. Likewise, Chinese food in Chinatown isn't necessarily better. However Russian food might be better in the Richmond.
5. There are also many homeless, south of Market. Beware the opera guy (doesn't talk - only sings opera) and the handbag lady (she hits ladies with her purse from behind). Beware the pimps near 8th and Mission. Watch out for naked people at the Hole in the Wall on 8th St.
6. Be careful crossing the street in general. Pedestrians have the right of way, but that's only if you follow the rules. If you rent a car, be careful about bicycles and motorcycles.
Knowledge is power! And knowing is half the battle. LOL. Ack... well I'm sure you'll have a greater chance of enjoying yourself if you avoid these things.
San Francisco has more shopping carts than Walmart. They are almost always accompanied by homeless people who use the carts to carry around every possession they own.
The homeless problem is out of control in San Francisco. This is the dark side of San Francisco. If you haven't been to SF recently, you should be prepared for this before your visit. The situation is far worse than in most other US cities. The homeless are everywhere in SF - even places that are considered safe areas.
Most homeless people, however, are harmless.
Some Do and Don'ts:
Steer clear of the screamers and yellers. You don't want to take your chances by messing with them.
Use your own judgment in giving handouts. San Franciscans are very opinionated about the homeless problem. Some believe people should not give handouts because it increases the dependency of the homeless, and they won't hesitate to express their opinion.
If you are asked for a handout, whether you decide to give or not, express a kind greeting. All deserve respect and it is only by a stroke of luck that some of us are not out there standing in their shoes (myself included).
A big scare and shock is the number of homeless in San Francisco. 90% of our homeless are either drug users or people with mental problems. A few years back our city released a large number of mental patients into the city streets and now they have nowhere to go and don't even realize where they are.
There is help for the cities homeless but, with the prices of our apartments (min 700 a month in the worst areas of the city for a room) it's hard for any of these people to find a home.
You may feel a little funny with people sleeping in the street while your touring the town. Don't worry, they don't hurt anyone. They will harrass you a bit but that's all. Just walk fast and if they ask you for money don't ignore them, just tell them no. If they ask again, tell them no and act like you mean it.
Never trust someone who smiles and comes up to you in the street to talk with you. We don't do that here. People normaly don't stop in the street to converse with a stranger unless they want something.
For a tourist it's a safe city, but like all cities play it safe. If you ever get lost in a strange area or feel theatend; walk into the nearest store ask for help. No matter how bad the area is the shopkeepers will always assist you.
At Fisherman's Wharf in San Fransisco, some street performers are evil. They pose for pictures all the time, and they do funny tricks to attract a lot of people, especially kids. Once the kids warm up to them, they get close for a hug.
As you can see from my photo, I was able to document this rare event as this skeletal demon closed in for the kill. Poor child, all she wanted was a hug. Now she'll never live to see the light of a new day...
Home of the Homeless!
San Francisco hosts an enormous homeless population. Some are just plain down and out due to financial or other problems, some choose the lifestyle, but many have substance abuse or psychological issues. It is common to see shopping carts driving down the street or sidewalk loaded with anything except groceries. Homeless people can be located anywhere within the City. Only in a few residential neighborhoods are they rare. They are far more abundant in certain areas like downtown, Civic Center, the Mission, the Tenderloin, portions of Golden Gate Park, the "South of Market area", and the City's few remaining light industrial districts.
Their claim to fame is panhandling. Sometimes several apply their trade on a single block. A few have organized into collectives, and spread out to cover a territory more affectively. Some are aggressive in their approach. Others are more courteous. Nowadays, the phrase "Brother can you spare a dime" has been replaced by "spare change, do you have a quarter, or got a dollar." Use your common sense in any dealings with these folks. If you come to San Francisco and are not hit up for change, you have spent too much time in your hotel room.
This guy hangs around on The Embarcadero, in front of Fisherman's Wharf. He's not really dangerous, but he will give you a good scare.
He's one of the area's many talented street performers. His particular skill? Sitting behind a bush and scaring the heck out of people by sticking a branch out in front of them and makes a noise. Usually a crowd has gathered on the opposite side of the street, and a smaller group on his side...so you'd have to really be not paying attention for him to "get" you.
I have no idea how he manages to make money doing this. Perhaps he collects from the people watching his show from across the street. And I'm sure he gets smacked 100 times a day by his victims.
The usual warning you get in most large cities:
Be wary of some of the more aggressive homeless types along Market street and near the Tenderloin. If they are drunk or high, staring aggressively, shouting, etc. I make myself scarce.
Pic above/right is of a lady I see occasionally (not that she's homeless, .. I have no idea)
and sometimes stop & chat briefly with on Columbus in North Beach, usually somewhere close by Cafe Vesuvio.
She never yells, she doesn't rave; she just sits on the sidewalk, and she says thanks and squeezes my hand - if and when I give her some dough.
I know lots of people cringe and get tight jaws when bleeding-heart wimps like me cave and give people money.
To each his own:
it is a very complex issue and everyone has a right to an opinion.
I hope you never get either verbally or physically assaulted by a homeless person in the City.
I also hope you & your family never have a major life / health crisis that bankrupts you financially, mentally and spiritually.
So beware of the homeless in San Francisco, and also be even more wary of a hard heart. I read somewhere it can be terminal.Here is a link
Shame of the City
to an excellent in-depth series of personal articles in the SF Chronicle about the homeless in SF, where they live, the areas they inhabit, and some personal stories about many individuals living on the street and what they deal with every day.
Me and my friend was approached by a very nice man in the tourist office close to the Powell Bart station. He needed help finding a map and was very thankful to us when we found it for him and asked us where we were from. Obviously he heard that we were foreign and when we told him we were Swedish he said that he was going there in a couple of weeks on tour with his band, melting point, opening for REM. He didn't look like the highlife rock person, as he was in his 40-50-ies but we could not rule out that he was not. His name was Danny Greene and he was just up from LA on a short trip with his band. This night however there would be a closed 'professional' concert -love not bombs- featuring Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pearl Jam and some other band and he had tickets for his band but all members except his girlfriend had left town so he asked us if we wanted to tag along. We said fine and he took us to a hotel were he could get us the tickets was. In the lobby after some more sweet talk he asked us for $19 each for the tickets as he was going up to a room to purchase them. Guess if he was going to return with them... We didn't give him the money and after a little more small talk he took off.
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.
San Francisco, especially downtown and any tourist area, is chock full of people trying to separate you from your money. Do not engage. Say sorry no and keep walking. There are lots of sob stories and most of them are scams for crack money. In addition to those with substance abuse issues, there are also lots of seriously mentally ill people out there, who thanks to the closure of treatment facilities, are not getting care. Now and then someone asks me to buy them a meal, and this I do-I don't give them money. I ask what they want and get it for them. It sounds cold, and for some truly in need it is but for every genuine sob story, there are 20 hustlers looking for crack or cheap liquor.
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