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'San Francisco is like a failed state': Joe Rogan slams the 'next level' crime in the Golden Gate City — which is fast 'becoming a ghost town.' Is he right?

'San Francisco is like a failed state': Joe Rogan slams the 'next level' crime in the Golden Gate City — which is fast 'becoming a ghost town.' Is he right?
'San Francisco is like a failed state': Joe Rogan slams the 'next level' crime in the Golden Gate City — which is fast 'becoming a ghost town.' Is he right?

High-profile podcaster and TV presenter Joe Rogan has taken a shot at crime-ridden San Francisco, offering his take on the large California city and its perceived level of lawlessness.

In conversation with stand-up comedian and actor Gabriel Iglesias on a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan said: “San Francisco is like a failed state."

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The two men agreed that crime in the city is “next level,” as Iglesias put it.

“No one’s stopping anybody from doing anything,” Rogan added. “It’s crazy how quick San Francisco has [declined]. Everyone’s pulling out of there. Hotels are pulling out. Chains like Walgreens are pulling out.”

Businesses have been fleeing downtown San Francisco to the extent that “it’s becoming a ghost town,” argues Iglesias, who added: “And they’re not pumping the breaks on it.”

Now, the pair did make these comments from the comfort of Rogan’s podcast studio in Austin, Texas. But is San Francisco as bad as they make it out to be?

Retail crime

One type of crime that has apparently been on the rise in San Francisco is retail crime.

In a brazen example, CNN Senior National Correspondent Kyung Lah claimed to witness three thefts in 30 minutes while filming a television report on July 24 at the Walgreens in San Francisco’s Richmond neighborhood. News cameras captured at least one individual walking out of the pharmacy without paying for any items. Many products at the store are kept under lock and key.

In recent months, several retail giants — including Nordstrom, H&M, Marshall's, Gap, Banana Republic, Anthropologie and Office Depot — have announced they’re pulling out of some San Francisco locations. Crime levels were cited as playing a role in some of these decisions.

Rising concern over retail crime is not isolated to the Golden Gate City. According to a report from the National Retail Federation, a majority of retailers surveyed between 2020 and 2022 reported annual increases in organized retail crime activity at their stores.

To combat the problem, Home Depot CEO Ted Decker announced in June that the home improvement company would be “investing in more security guards” to protect the safety of its employees and customers. This decision sadly followed the deaths of two Home Depot employees during theft incidents.

However, others argue there could be other factors contributing to the closures of these retail stores. After Target announced closures in New York and San Francisco, reporters from the newsletter Popular Information analyzed crime statistics in those cities. The data shows that there were fewer theft reports filed from the stores in question compared to nearby locations that remained open, suggesting theft wasn't the company's only consideration.

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'A ghost town'

To call downtown San Francisco a “ghost town” may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there are several factors playing into this perception.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the city’s tech-heavy workforce embraced remote work and its return to the office has been slow. According to real estate company Savills, San Francisco had one of the lowest office availability rates in the U.S. before the pandemic at 9.5%; however, in June it reported vacancy was at 30%, a 30-year high.

This major drop in in-office workers has contributed to the diminishment of the city’s once-buzzing downtown core. Even hotels are cutting their losses and bidding farewell to the city.

John Chachas, the CEO of Gump’s, a 166-year-old department store in San Francisco, recently penned a chilling review of the current state of play.

“As we prepare for our 166th holiday season at 250 Post Street, we fear this may be our last,” Chacas wrote in an open letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, Mayor London Breed, and the city’s Board of Supervisors, published as a paid advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“San Francisco now suffers from a ‘tyranny of the minority’ — behavior and actions of the few that jeopardize the livelihood of the many.

“The ramifications of COVID policies advising people to abandon their offices are only beginning to be understood. Equally devastating have been a litany of destructive San Francisco strategies, including allowing the homeless to occupy our sidewalks, to openly distribute and use illegal drugs, to harass the public and to defile the city’s streets.”

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.