Charles Barkley is a name that most basketball fans will recognize. Barkley was present in San Francisco for the NBA All-Star game and got to chatting with NBNA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller. His statements about San Francisco had a lot of people up in arms. Let’s see what he said to provoke them.

What Would You Choose?

Barkley asked Miller a vital question that set the stage for the former star’s statements. The question hinged on whether Miller would feel better playing in the cold in Indianapolis or “being around a bunch of homeless crooks in San Francisco.”

Source: Flickr/Benjamin Reed

Immediately, Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green told Barkley he was crazy. He added that Barkley wasn’t welcome in San Francisco after the statement. WNBA star Candace Parker replied by saying they love the city.

A Correction from Barkley

Barkley replied by telling Parker that, no, they don’t love the city. He cited the fact that no one could walk around San Francisco without becoming the victim of a crime as his reason for not liking it.

Source: Twitter/X

Green pushed back against Barkley by telling him that people could indeed walk around in San Francisco. As a final quip, Barkley replied, “Yeah, with a bulletproof vest.” It’s clear that Barkley dislikes San Francisco, partially because of how dangerous it feels to him.

Not Completely Wrong

While Green and Parker may have rosy visions of San Francisco, Barkley’s take on the city’s current state is more realistic. Last year, statistics show that there was a massive volume of violent crime in the city.

Source: Flickr/benbeiske

Even up to last month. Business owners in some parts of the city have called on public officials to deal with the crime situation. They claim that they are losing business because customers don’t feel safe walking around there anymore. Their walk-in numbers have dropped significantly over the last few years.

Residents Stunned By The State Of the City

Some residents who travel extensively have stated how appalled they are by the state of San Francisco. Since some of them have visited countries outside the US, they say that other cities that are bigger than San Francisco are dealing with the same problems more effectively.

Source: Flickr/Scarlet Sappho

San Francisco’s downfall and economic implosion could be traced to several things. Some experts describe the city as the epicenter of the country’s Fentanyl epidemic. There are tents and camps situated near to where kids are playing, making for a dangerous environment to raise a child in.

Officials Hit Back

San Francisco’s officials weren’t going to take the insults lying down. To hit back against Barkley’s statements, they said that the city’s crime rate as of 2024 was lower than at any time in the previous decade.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

To add to these statistics, officials stated that there was a 7% decrease in crime compared to 2022 and a 13% decrease when compared to 2019, pre-COVID. SFGate, however, mentioned that vehicle theft has gone up year after year since 2022.

Admitting There’s More Work to Do

San Francisco may be improving slowly but surely, but it won’t change overnight. In a release last month, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said that the government’s work around public safety is showing some degree of success.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Part of the city’s efforts to make the region safer include increasing the police presence in “hotspot” areas and improving the delivery of police services by expanding the roster of officers through a hiring drive.

Housing Crisis Also Plays a Huge Part

While crime is a huge problem, the lack of available housing in San Francisco is doing little to help the situation. Many locals who live and work in the city can’t afford to stay there. Seeing people sleeping in their cars because they can’t afford rent is not doing the city’s image any favors.

Source: Flickr/Janne Kiviluoto

The city’s homelessness problem comes from a lack of affordable housing, which is, in part, due to a reduction in housing construction schemes. It’s another example of a governmental attempt to control rent prices spiraling out of control because of a lack of understanding of supply and demand.

Some Areas are Safer than Others

As with many cities, several areas are safer than others. Areas like Excelsior and Outer Sunset are good examples of safer neighborhoods with lower-than-average crime compared to the bulk of San Francisco. Unfortunately, these can be expensive neighborhoods to live in.

Source: Flickr/Ken Lund

Other neighborhoods are hotbeds of crime, with ineffective police patrols and rampant drug problems. Areas such as The Tenderloin or Bayview have expensive housing without the benefit of being in a safe neighborhood. Yet resident has little choice since giving up their house or apartment means they may end up sleeping on the streets.

What Caused The Homelessness Problem?

The drug problem that San Francisco is facing has a lot to do with its declining fortunes. With so many people locked in a survival battle with drugs, they can’t get employment and suffer from homelessness in an area with a high baseline for rental properties.

Source: Flickr/Shani Heckman

Barkley’s approximation of the homeless problem was on point, but calling all of them criminals was painting with a broad brush. Many people experiencing homelessness are employed, some of them in very well-paying jobs. They just can’t find a place they can afford to rent because of availability.

Other Cancellations Underline the Problem

Recently, a well-known TikTok food influencer canceled his food tour through San Francisco, highlighting crime and homelessness as two factors affecting the tour’s suspension. He’s not the only one who has noticed how far San Francisco has fallen.

Source: Flickr/James Carnes

What was once the crown jewel of California is now showing signs of economic and social collapse thanks to drugs, homelessness, and a spate of other issues. Cops are overworked and under-resourced, with criminals being released to re-offend.

What Can The City Do?

In the face of a situation like this, Mayor Breed may have the right idea, but it may not be enough to curb the rampant homelessness. Law enforcement is only one half of the story, and the city needs to look at other avenues to help those who want the help.

Source: Flickr/Steve Rhodes

There has been some movement by the city to construct more housing, although the bureaucracy may cause these construction projects to be delayed. Only time will tell whether Barkley’s statements about San Francisco will continue to ring true as 2024 proceeds.