San Francisco has had a very public face, for at least the past 20 years, of tech company success: wealthy residents in wealthy neighbourhoods and a skyline evolving with glass and steel skyscrapers. But beyond this, our greatest industry is actually tourism, with over $10 Billion spent by visitors, along with a multitude of annual conventions and expos. Moreover, massive biotech research facilities abound. Prestigious Italian and French designer fashion and accessories shops line the streets in Union Square. Huge cruise ships dock along the waterfront, and airlines boast of new non-stop flights from jaw-droppingly distant cities like Sydney, Tel-Aviv and Dubai.
Publicly, San Francisco is cutting-edge: on the forefront of tech trends, it's an exciting place for newly-graduated students to flock to for the highest paying jobs nationally, working for the most prestigious tech, social media and medical research companies today. For over 20 years, San Francisco has been an international star, a global destination bringing together business, a pleasant quality of life, tourism and natural beauty. However, local leadership doesn't want this, and privately, they haven't wanted this for a long, long time.
San Francisco's city hall leaders have done painfully little to embrace, let alone accept, our boom-era positive growth, our conventions, our tourism, tech office space, luxury brand retail storefronts. Instead, they firmly grasp onto 60's era counter-culture kicking and screaming, continuously resulting in epic public services mismanagement, reliance on pie-in the sky radical social policy, and legendary deeply-rooted corruption.
Today, any positive gains of our boom-time economy and host city reputation over these past twenty years have been nearly wiped out. San Francisco's socialist city counsel members are squarely to blame. Calling the politicians "socialists' is literally fact. Many belong to the local DSA chapter (Democratic Socialists of America), and proudly advertise that as a badge of honour.
Now, with coronavirus quarantines, myriad restrictions and the rollercoaster of business and school closures, reopenings and closures yet again are forever damaging, if not permanently destroying, our small businesses, many of which have been neighbourhood fixtures for literally decades. Rather than using this difficult time to reflect on how the city spends money, to tighten the belt on the least-essential programmes, we are instead seeing the epitome of greed under the coronavirus lockdown: City hall politicians propose raising taxes on residents and business owners, placing several tax measures on this November's ballot, along with a half-billion-dollar bond measure. The city's population of 860,000 has an annual budget of $12.3 billion, and according to recent estimates, we will have a shortfall of over $1.7 billion.
Our city is indeed in steep decline. Residents are giving up and leaving as homelessness, drug addiction and crime are raging, businesses close shop and offices remain vacant. Remote work enables workers to live outside the city, so downtown has become a ghost town.
Let's be real: The city's inept politicians have long overspent, then ignored the warning signs. Sustained taxing will eventually drive people and businesses out, which we witness today. Adding risky bonds to the upcoming ballot increases the strain on the city's obligations, adds to chances of municipal bankruptcy and a ruined credit rating. Failing to curb government spending will continue to feed budget shortfalls.
San Francisco is flirting with disaster. Today, city hall operates business as usual, figuratively, even in these extreme COVID quarantine times, while denying reality of dire circumstances. San Francisco is on life support, and going down fast.