San Francisco battling perception of being unsafe

A recent survey shows that nearly half of Americans consider San Francisco to be an unsafe city.

While San Francisco's leadership asserts the city's safe, they acknowledge the need to address the prevailing perception of it being unsafe.

The city is known worldwide as a tourist destination and that reputation is part of what drew nearly 22 million visitors to San Francisco in 2022.

However, survey results from a new Gallup poll revealed that 46% of Americans view San Francisco as unsafe.

The San Francisco Mayor's Office has emphasized its safety efforts, attributing the survey results in part to partisan media and right-wing criticisms of the city.

The survey shows that approximately 75% of Democrats deem San Francisco to be secure, compared to only 32% of Republicans who share the same view.

Visitors who have experienced San Francisco firsthand note that despite hearing stories of street chaos and rising crime rates, they found the city to be different from these narratives.

"I've heard stories that the homeless (rate) is really high here, and the crime rate is getting really bad in the last few years," Donovan Herbert from Ft. Worth, Tex., told KTVU. "That's not what I've found. I've had a great experience."

The reputation has extended beyond the United States as well.

"With the car robberies, on the television, we saw it. But I think this city is easy," Rolf Liebert from Stuttgart, Germany, said.

The head of San Francisco Travel, Joe D'Alesandro, noted that he isn't surprised by visitors' positive perception of safety. Surveys conducted for San Francisco Travel reveal that 92% of tourists express interest in returning for another visit.

The travel association acknowledges the challenge of countering the perception that the city is unsafe.

"Our crime rate is down slightly here by a little over 2%, and San Francisco is a safe city," said D'Alesandro. "The problem we have now is perception. There are a lot of people out there on the internet who are blogging or sending videos that don't like San Francisco's politics, don't like San Francisco."

The Hotel Council of San Francisco also acknowledges the need to enhance the city's image.

Alex Bastian says that the hotels are collaborating to combat crime and ensure a safe experience for visitors.

"We are taking it upon ourselves on the Hotel Council and Hospitality Committee to work together, to share information," Bastian said. "To build cases on repeat offenders that can impact the hotel community."

In total, the survey covered 16 cities, and San Francisco ranked in the lower half. Dallas was widely perceived as the safest large city, with Detroit placing last on the list.