San Francisco Gets Tough on Crime

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

San Francisco, with its steep hills and streetcars and glorious vistas, was once a gorgeous little jewel of a city, but that was a long time ago. Leftist politicians, including but by no means limited to Nancy Pelosi, made it Exhibit A of how far-Left policies can destroy what was once a beautiful place to live. But there is hope for the City of Fog yet, and not even just for those of its citizens who are black or homeless and mentally ill. The Paris of the West, where people die of drug overdoses on the street virtually every day and out-of-control theft is now dismissed as a “basic city experience,” is finally getting tough. No, authorities aren’t cleansing the city of the scourges of drugs or tent cities or skyrocketing crime, but they are making sure San Franciscans are safe from the danger of a Little Free Library.


As odd and out of focus as it may initially seem, this actually makes sense. Leftists, after all, don’t want people reading and thinking for themselves. They want indoctrinated bots mindlessly repeating their cynical and manipulative slogans (“Black Lives Matter” is the most notorious example; assent to what is an obvious truth and suddenly you’re expressing support for a violent Marxist group), not critical thinkers who are able to see through their deceptions. So even the smallest possibility of people thinking on their own must be stamped out, as San Francisco residents Joe and Susan Meyers found out the hard way.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the city sent Joe and Susan a notice: “Remove unpermitted encroachments from public right of way,” or obtain, within 30 days, a $1,402 “Minor Sidewalk Encroachment Permit” for a minuscule, two-shelf Little Free Library, which holds around twenty books, and a bench in front of their home. This notice was sent, according to the Journal, because of “a single anonymous complaint,” and despite the fact that all over San Francisco there are tent cities that encroach upon sidewalk access in a major, not a minor way, and yet no one is sending the homeless drug addicts any notices to remove “unpermitted encroachments from public right of way” or pay a fine.


The Journal notes that the Meyerses set up their little library ten years ago, and “stock it with a revolving catalog ranging from ‘It’s Fun to Make Things From Scrap Materials’ to ‘Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating.’” People can take or leave books as they wish, for free, all on the honor system. The amateur librarians also keep “dog biscuits next to the bin and festoon a nearby tree with seasonal decorations.” Yeah, you’d think this was just the sort of couple that city officials ought to be presenting with civic awards and celebrating with happy little ceremonies at city hall, but come on, man! It’s not 1953 anymore!

Nevertheless, some people can’t help but notice that as the city tumbles to Third World status all around them, the authorities could find better things to do than harass a harmless couple whose crime is no more serious than making books available to people free of charge. One of the Meyerses’ neighbors said, “The fact that we live in a city where they would rather fight someone that is doing something positive is what I find so disheartening.” Indeed.

It isn’t even just Joe and Susan Meyers. The city has been busy harassing other people for the same kind of violation: “Encroachment permits are common in California, where cities require them for everything from mailboxes to vegetation planting along public roadways. San Francisco officials say they average 893 minor-encroachment complaints a year, and that their policies give them no choice but to act on the complaints, which often are filed anonymously via the city’s 311 call line.”


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That call line is “reviled by many local residents,” as it can “tangle the most simple facet of neighborhood life in bureaucracy.” Hey, it’s safer and easier than going after drug dealers and violent criminals, and more lucrative, too, as the victims are generally law-abiding citizens who will actually pay the fine that is levied.

And so anonymous busybodies have also “recently questioned the legality of dozens of decades-old store awnings and outdoor signs.” One business that received a notice about its sign was a laundromat whose owner recounts, “They asked if I had a permit for the sign. I said, ‘How do I know, it’s been over 40 years’” since the sign went up. But a fine is likely. The city, after all, has an awful lot of social services to pay for, and San Franciscans have precious little to show for all the tax money they pay. That’s the Left in power.


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