(CALMATTERS) – Even before the 2020 start of the pandemic, there was no shortage of op-eds and articles lamenting the apparently terrible state of San Francisco. The reason for the city’s shortcomings varied from basic government incompetence (in 2009), to being too wealthy (in 2014), to being too gentrified (in 2016 and again in 2019), to all of the above.

But when COVID-19 hit — disrupting local economies, shutting down schools and closing businesses around the world — major cities across the U.S. experienced a mass exodus. San Francisco was no exception and for a time, it was as if there was always a new piece (or book!) about leaving San Francisco or how it was a failed city. It seemed that for more than a decade, San Francisco was “forever dying,” as SFGATE put it.

Understandably, for every article there would be pushback — counter narratives that praised the city’s resilience

But a wave of headlines in the last few days about the city’s failings appears to take a more acute approach — an acknowledgement that San Francisco is indeed losing a lot of money and a lot of people. Its vacant downtown financial district, which has truly been devastated by the pandemic, will also get worse if something isn’t done about it soon.

One suggestion, put forward by The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, is to have the state intervene, similar to how the federal government and the state of New York stepped in to help resurrect Manhattan’s Financial District after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Soon enough, the district recovered

So should California, or the federal government, do the same for San Francisco? While the future of San Francisco remains unknown, the fate of the city and its economic, cultural, and financial standings are intrinsically tied to the fate of California. But if San Francisco wants to improve, the Chronicle editorial board argues, it must ease its bureaucratic restrictions and “stop getting in its own way.”

  • The San Francisco Chronicle, in the editorial: “For too long, San Francisco has been so backward-looking as to make it impossible to move forward. This is at odds with the innovation and creativity that the city takes pride in, and which it needs to foster and unleash if it wants to escape its current mold: a city preserved — stuck — in the resin of the pandemic.”