SAN FRANCISCO—Donna Aldirch and Mike Olcese, residents of San Francisco’s Marina District, considered by residents to be a “safe neighborhood” say they are constantly on edge after experiencing an increase in criminal activity on their block. 

Aldirch recalled home invasions and one intrusion into her car. “My building has had three intruders that we know of,“ Aldirch told KPIX 5. During one break-in, the intruder broke into Aldirch’s car. “I felt really violated,” she said. During another intrusion, the apartment was invaded. 

“There was someone. We don’t know how he got in. Maybe a fire escape. Maybe the roof, but he was going up and down the backstairs trying the back doors of all the units and stuck his head in an open door, up at the top,” Aldirch said.

“There was a Citizen [app] report yesterday that said someone was thriving knives at a tree,” said Olcese. “I cannot remember seeing a time of reports of active shootings in broad day like, ever.”

Hotels that used to be reserved for tourists on Lombard Street have been given to people who were homeless as part of the city of San Francisco’s Shelter-In-Place hotel program, which has cost the city $3 million and the state and federal governments $175 million according to San Francisco District Supervisors Dean Preston and Matt Haney. 

Public records obtained by KPIX 5 show that the frequency of 911 calls to the Buena Vista Inn have rapidly increased since the city began housing homeless people there, going from 1 or 2 calls a month to 14 calls a month. 

One message sent to KPIX 5 titled “EXTREME UPTICK IN VIOLENCE INCLUDING GUNFIRE IN SF’S MARINA DISTRICT DUE TO HOMELESS HOTELS,” said there were shootings, break-ins, fights, and robberies.

“This morning I was awoken by gunshots around 7:30am near one of the hotels and last Thursday, I missed gunshots right outside my apartment by Lombard and Gough by less than 2 minutes. These are the most severe cases of these incidents, but as someone who has the Citizen app, I get alerts multiple times a day about fights, break-ins, robberies, etc.” 

The author of the message said he did not expect what he shared to become news-worthy, but the rising crime was “unfortunately becoming inevitably the truth.” 

The statement ended with a request to consider the testimony so that the rising crime related to the Shelter-In-Place hotels housing homeless people can be addressed.

“I figured I would bring this to your attention as maybe you might be able to shine a light on what is happening and see if the city will respond once there is media scrutiny.” 

Photo of “gang drug dealers and drug addict with sepsis” by Twitter user @WillyNaaktgebo1

In a complaint addressed to the city of San Francisco, another resident wrote:

“I work for the city. What I am seeing in the hotel situation for the homeless is a total disgrace. Destruction of rooms, assaults on females, open air drug use and a complete lack of security. Enormous amounts of money are being spent on people who don’t want to work and for the most part just want to o.d. [overdose] on our street corners. The rest of us pay high taxes and work our asses off to fund this crap.”

Russel Rosener, who works at the Buena Vista SIP hotel on Gough Street, said the program was helping the community. “I have seen people coming in a pretty bad situation and over time as they stayed, they get better and better.” 

San Francisco is seeing an increase in burglaries in 2020 compared to the previous year. There were 5,985 burglaries between January 1 and November 1 this year compared to 4,150 during the same time frame last year. 

Community members complained that the San Francisco District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, is “incompetent,” perceiving his “lack of prosecuting and sentencing” as exacerbating the uptick in crime.

A Tweet criticizing the San Francisco DA

Sworn into office on January 8, 2020, Boudin is currently facing a “severe understaffing” crisis at the District Attorney’s office, which threatens to harm criminal prosecution cases. Boudin told the San Francisco Examiner that a single prosecutor in the General Felonies Unit is handling as many as 229 cases a year compared to the national standard of 150. 

Community members also attribute rising crime to “failed” policies by the SF Board of Supervisors. They asked if there were plans to prosecute those involved in break-ins and drug dealing. The Twitter account of “Beer Basement,” a Tenderloin craft beer store located on 222 Hyde Street, shared with Supervisor Matt Haney about rising crime due to homelessness and its effect on local businesses.

Security footage of the outdoors of the “Beer Basement” Tenderloin craft beer shop.
(Courtesy of Beer Basement’s Twitter)

With a still of security footage of homeless people loitering outside the property of Beer Basement, the Twitter admin commented:

Right now we struggle as we are shut down since March 16th, 2020. Had break in’s during the shut down and can’t reopen our business due to people loitering 24/7 in front of our business, selling drugs on the daily.”