San Francisco Business Owner Says Laws Leave Them ‘Helpless’ Against Homelessness

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The story of a San Francisco art gallery’s owner getting arrested after hosing down a homeless woman with a water hose outside his store in “frustration” was described as “another reminder” of the brokenness of the city.

“I Lost My Temper. San Francisco has lost its mind”, Collier Gwin wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Gwin gained national attention in January of last year after a passerby recorded the 71-year-old spraying water on a woman who refused to leave the sidewalk outside his store. He was arrested and accepted a deal recently to do 35 hours of community work in exchange for a misdemeanor charge against him.

San Francisco resident, 40 years old, said that the video clip did not show the “frustration” and “helplessness” felt by business owners in their locality where drug abuse and theft of goods are unpunished.

In my city, shoplifting, and drug use are not crimes. But my frustration led to me performing 35 hours of community work. “This is yet another reminder of just how corrupt San Francisco has grown and how unwelcoming the current laws and regulations are for small business owners and taxpayers,” he wrote.

Gwin and his neighbors called the police 50 times within a month. Even though Mayor Breed had given instructions, nothing happened.

He claimed that “everyone who came told us they could not move the woman no matter what she did to herself or the community.”

He recalled that local merchants had described the woman in the police report as “severely mentally ill.” They also described her as “stealing food from restaurants and defecating openly in front of their businesses. She performs sex acts on herself in public, screams at merchants and passersby, and spits when people get too close.”

Gwin claimed that after being thrust into the spotlight of national attention, he received death threats and “profane phone calls”. He said locals understood his actions better than those outside.

“My anger was no excuse, but is anyone aware of the dire situation in San Francisco?” I’ve been attacked on social media by people who have threatened me with my life and filled my phone up with abusive calls. I have struggled to maintain both my personal and business health. “Yet, within our city limits, I have received overwhelming understanding, because people are also frustrated with what San Francisco has become,” wrote he.

The business owner was frustrated because he admitted that he did not have answers for fixing the problems, but claimed that social services and law enforcement were not helping and taxpayer dollars are being “wasted”.

According to newly released federal data, California’s homeless population actually increased despite spending over $17 billion in the past several years on combating homelessness.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that in 2022, the city would have “more than 7,754 people who were homeless, and nearly 4,400 of them sleeping in tents, vehicles, or on the street”.

The owner of the art gallery pleaded with others to hold city officials and the judicial systems accountable for “resolving this crisis.”

“The average person isn’t prepared to handle these types of problems.” Was I wrong? I regret losing my temper. “I hope that this episode will spur my fellow citizens into demanding that city leaders and courts do something to resolve the crisis,” he said.