SF restaurant employees voice frustrations with city's homeless, mentally ill residents
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It's a sickening image for anyone who's seen it: A man with a dead bleeding raccoon sitting at a table in a San Francisco McDonald's.
The restaurant kicked the man out and closed the restaurant for a five hour deep clean on Sunday.
While it may be shocking to most restaurants, around San Francisco they say it's just the latest example of how restaurants are on the frontlines of dealing with the city's addicted, homeless and mentally ill.
Little Orphan Andy's in the city's Castro District says they welcome anyone-- letting people use the restroom when necessary and offering water to anyone in need. But they say they've also had their share of frightening situations. "Got threatened with a pipe, he just came in and was mentally unstable and he threatened us with a pipe," said Joe Caruso.
And in one of the most tourist dense parts of town near 4th Street and Market Bluestem Brassiere says they try to help those in need. But, have also had numerous incidents involving mentally ill or addicted people impact their business.
Owner Adam Jed says city officials and businesses all need to work together to address the ongoing crisis. "We need to start addressing the health and human services as well as the homeless issues that are plaguing this city right now," said Jed.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association says these examples are far from isolated incidents. "We are on the frontlines on dealing with this issue. The situation that happened in a McDonalds could happen to any restaurant in the city," said Gwyneth Borden from Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
Restaurants says the ripple effects of incidents like these don't just impact the restaurants they can blow a hole in the city's $9 billion tourism business. "I talk to people every single day and I would say about 10% of the customers that have come from outside San Francisco are not coming back," said Caurso. "They've said it right to my face. They've said it to our co-workers. 'We're not coming back. Your city is unsafe, it's dirty, there's more needles here than in New York City.'"
The restaurant association, the hospitality industry and merchant’s associations around town have joined together working to address the city's mentally ill and addicted. " First we have to declare a state of emergency on our streets, then we need to enforce the laws so we can separate those who are taking advantage of the situation and breaking the laws," said Borden.
KTVU contacted the Mayor's office to discuss this issue. Her office said she is focused on the issue. Her office said she is working to increase the number of mental health stabilization beds and strengthen conservatorship laws as well as increase investment in long term solutions.