A billionaire venture capitalist and partner at Sequoia Capital has blasted the state of San Francisco’s seedy, drug-addled downtown — lambasting the city’s Democrat leadership which “bans plastic straws but permits plastic needles.”
“It’s a strange city that bans plastic straws but permits plastic needles. Yet that’s San Francisco today,” Michael Moritz, 68, seethed in a fiery op-ed published in the Financial Times Wednesday.
“Between 2020 and 2022, 1,985 people here have died from drug overdoses compared to 1,143 from Covid-19,” he added.
The former journalist-turned-investor said rampant and unchecked drug-use has turned the City by the Bay in a “zombie” land.
“Fentanyl, the synthetic drug that is 50 times more powerful than and a fraction of the cost of heroin, has turned many blocks of the city into zombie zones,” Moritz wrote.
Mortiz provided a lengthy list of the issues plaguing San Francisco, stemming from the drug and homelessness problem — including “the highest commercial office vacancy rates of any big city in the US” and “a public school system whose enrollment has fallen and which has only 55 percent English proficiency and 46 percent maths proficiency.”
The venture capitalist also decried the sky-high housing costs which make the city “prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthy.”
He argued that much of San Francisco’s issues stem from the drug and homelessness problem, urging the city’s Democrat mayor, London Breed, to address these key issues immediately.
“But without tackling San Francisco’s open-air drug markets and homeless encampments, efforts to solve these problems will be fruitless,” he wrote.
“Beyond the shocking waste of potential, the drug use and homeless tents consume an enormous part of San Francisco’s annual $13.95bn budget,” he continued.
“Direct city spending on homelessness has risen from about $200mn for the fiscal year 2016 to $680mn this year.”
Homelessness in San Francisco rose by more than 30% in the decade from 2009 to 2019, according to official figures.
Moritz argued that local propositions, lack of voter turnout and politicians who exploit malleable term limits prevent the big kind of change required to make a difference.
“None of this has happened overnight — it’s a situation that has built up over decades and to which state and federal policies have contributed. But much of it is the result of skillful politicking,” he said.
“San Francisco’s drug and homeless crisis can be solved, but that would mean changes to the mechanics of government and co-ordinated political will.”
In order for the major California metropolis to move forward, Moritz, argued, the city’s leaders must ensure “persistent pursuit of harm-reduction programmes, sufficient public shelters, commitment for treatment for those who are a danger to themselves and others, visible policing, a judiciary that enforces the law and — most of all — a change in the armature of government.”
Sequoia Capital is headquartered in Menlo Park, an area just south of downtown.
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