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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many of the homeless people of San Francisco have come here from other parts of the country. I don't know where they are getting their information from, but many of them seem to think that being homeless in San Francisco is easy.
HEAR ME AND HEAR ME GOOD! If you, or maybe some kids you know, are planning on coming to S.F. thinking that the Haight is still a "peace and love" place, or that living on the streets is romantic and fun, FOR GOD'S SAKE READ THE WEB PAGE BELOW.
If you come here thinking you'll find peace and love, let me tell you what you're really going to find... alcoholism, drug addiction, scabies, lice, Hepatitis C, tuberculosis, "friends" who will rip you off, and cops and residents who will hate your guts. And that's if you're lucky!
If you're unlucky, you can wind up a prostitute, contract the AIDS virus, be beaten up or raped, or maybe even killed. Roughly 100 homeless people die on the streets of S.F. every year.
What ever issues you have at home, running away from them and coming here penniless may just destroy your life. Talk to other members of your family or your church or your local social services or somebody! The solution to your problems is not living on the streets.
just last weekend, my boyfriend and i were confronted at a bus stop on sutter st. and van ness by a rather dirty looking man. he pretty much said the same stuff to us,. Saying he was traveling all around with his girlfriend and how they are leaving that day for Europe. He began talking about his band, told us if we wanted tickets to a show that night, for his band melting point. he said he had to meet his girlfriend at the holiday inn express near pier 39. Thats were me and my bf were getting off. The whole bus ride he just not talked to us about music, he actually had some good tastes and was a Bukowski fan. We were kind of interested by this man, and his knowledge of music. Especially, my bf, he kind of targeted out talking to him alot about recording. Anyway, I noticed some odd things as the bus ride progressed... he had a package he was writing notes on and claimed it was a master copy of his bands music he was mailing. He kept talking alot, very hyper. I noticed he was not blinking much and the blood around his nose was a dead give away... coke head homeless man who may once have been into playing and recording music. Then the kicker... he says "I played bass for Tina Turner"... My boyfriend and I were just like he provided some cool info such as a good bookstore. As we parted he said, if you guys want to come to my show meet me back here in a half hour. Naturally, we didn't... the whole run in was kind of creepy.. especially because I fealt like the fact that I was taking photos at a bus stop was a dead give away I'm a young naive tourists. That whole week we would talk about how odd that interaction was and how the hobos actually have some neat things to say. Then we looked on ine to see if he was really in a band called Melting Point and found these virtualtourist.com people to avoide warnings.. Needless to say, we laughed the rest of the night and realized this man his pathetic because he has been doing the same scam for nearly 3 years!
My time in SF I was suprised at the amout of beggers and crazy people and drunks/addicts roaming the streets . they were all pretty harmless never really bothered me much at all.
But there are games and scams a lot of these guys have singing/trying to get you to buy into a charity & all sorts of other clever ideas to separate you from your dollars. it is up to yourself if you want to get involed in any of these things. But a firm NO Thank you is enought they go away and bother some one else.
None of them were pushy or abusive in any way at all they were all very polite and would just go away no screaming abuse or gimme gimme...
As someone who has encountered his share of the homeless, streetpeople, and pan handlers, I must say that the bums in San Francisco are the most vocal and hostile I have met. It is not enough that they make aggressive moves toward you with thier hands and paper cups, but then yell at you and call you names when you ignore thier pleas. I may be used to a more passive approach by this unfortuante group, but I felt that I was truly a bad, evil person for not obliging in some way. At one point I was told to "Rot in hell, boy!" As one who tries to be sympathetic and respectful to those in this situation and who does indeed try to offer somehting when I can, the agressive nature of the street people in San Fran definitley made me and my companion nervous. Just a warning to those not accustomed to the agressive approach. They are hostile.