California Governor Gavin Newsom recently appeared on Seth Meyers’ late-night show, where he defended San Francisco against criticisms of escalating crime and urban decay. Newsom, who served as the city’s mayor from 2004 to 2011, disputed the notion, often propagated by Republicans, that San Francisco is in a state of crisis.
Meyers questioned Newsom about the challenges faced by the city, including rampant crime, homelessness, and a notable exodus of businesses and residents. According to a report by Newsweek in June, approximately a quarter of a million people have left the Bay Area since 2020. Despite these concerns, Newsom expressed his defense of the city, acknowledging the need for more housing but emphasizing his pride in San Francisco.
Newsom criticized the portrayal of San Francisco by conservative media outlets, suggesting that they focus on the city’s problems to support their political narrative. He highlighted the city’s association with prominent Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris and framed California as a beacon of American recovery, pointing to its strong job growth rate.
During the interview, Meyers pressed Newsom on the city’s ongoing issues, particularly the lack of housing and local resistance to new construction. Newsom acknowledged the problem, mentioning his efforts to compel cities to build more affordable housing. He described housing affordability as California’s “original sin” and discussed the state and city’s response to the homelessness crisis, including mental health reforms and efforts to reduce street encampments.
Newsom’s remarks come amidst criticism of his and San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s approach to city cleanliness, particularly during the recent APEC summit attended by international leaders. Critics like Megyn Kelly have accused Newsom and Breed of only addressing the city’s issues when it served to impress foreign dignitaries, neglecting the daily struggles of local residents.
The city has faced a surge in business closures, with a report showing a significant decline in downtown retailers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, San Francisco is grappling with its deadliest year in terms of drug overdose deaths, primarily driven by fentanyl.
The increase in drug-related deaths and crime has coincided with a wave of business shutdowns and soaring office vacancy rates, leading to concerns about an “urban doom loop” in the city. Prominent companies like LinkedIn, Meta, and others have either left or significantly reduced their presence in San Francisco, further exacerbating the city’s challenges.
In response to the spike in crime, San Francisco plans to increase police presence during the holiday season, a move that follows the city’s earlier decision to defund the police amid Black Lives Matter protests. This year’s drug overdose deaths are on track to surpass the record set in 2020, highlighting the urgency of addressing these complex issues.