Restaurateurs have had to spend significant resources on cleaning solutions to clean graffiti off their buildings and fix smashed windows, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A couple of weeks ago, for example, Supreme Pizza in the Mission District was hit with acid.
“This is acid, so you can’t just remove it,” owner Leandro Jayme said. “They have to replace the glass.”
If business owners don’t clean up the mess, they could be fined up to $500 by the city.
Hanson Li, a partner at three different restaurants, said running a small business in San Francisco is like “death by a thousand cuts.”
“All these seemingly small things not only have actual dollar repercussions but then, like, the repairs are going to be two times what they took,” Li explained.
One San Francisco official admitted officials recently have deliberately cracked down on graffiti removal enforcement as they work to rehab the city’s tattered image.
“When we had more than a year of not going to enforce [it], if we didn’t have that stick with the carrot… sometimes people would just let it sit on their building,” Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Department of Public Works, told ABC 7.
“And then … more tags will come and another and another,” she added, referencing graffiti artists’ unique signature designs.
Even when the city introduced financial aid to help restaurants with removal, business owners argued it wasn’t sufficient to deal with the near-daily vandalism.
“It’s disheartening,” said Kayla Abe, co-owner of the restaurant Shuggie’s. “It just feels like there’s a huge disconnect between what the city thinks is good for us and how much we’re actually struggling on the ground.”
Several major businesses have shut down their storefronts in San Francisco over the past couple of years, citing out of control crime and homelessness.
In fact, since 2019, 47% of businesses in the area have closed, according to the San Francisco Standard.