Safer Streets, Brighter Futures

Federal workers ⁠i⁠n San Franc⁠i⁠sco ⁠t⁠o work remo⁠t⁠ely due ⁠t⁠o cr⁠i⁠me

September 1, 2023

Crime has gotten so bad in certain areas of San Francisco that workers in the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building have been told to work from home for the foreseeable future for their safety. That building is home not only to the local office of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but also those of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Transportation. This area of San Francisco is well known for the open sales and use of drugs and “The property’s concrete benches are an especially popular site for users to get high, socialize or pass out.” 

In a memo, the Department of Health and Human Services told employees “In light of the conditions at the (Federal Building) we recommend employees … maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future,” read a portion of the memo cited by the Chronicle. “This recommendation should be extended to all Region IX employees, including those not currently utilizing telework flexibilities.”

Those who work in the area are very familiar with the issues inherent in working in the area. “There’s all kinds of different dangers, depending on what time of day it is, what time of night it is and depending on what type of person, you know?” said Daisy Graziano, who works downtown. Some feel it’s unfair these federal employees can avoid the dangers while others cannot. Jacqueline Freeman, who also works in the area, said, “There are a lot of agencies that work in the area that do the same things that are at the same risk, yet we don’t have that option to work from home.”

Local authorities seem concerned with optics over safety. “The optics of (federal agencies) telling their employees that they should stay home is terrible,” said Matt Dorsey, a supervisor representing the district the building is located in. “If there are concerns about federal employees, I would like to see the U.S. Marshals and Federal Protective Service make sure that the entire block is protected. We’re not talking about a small private enterprise or a small business, we’re talking about the government of the United States of America.” 

All businesses should feel safe operating, not just the federal government, yet we’ve seen countless buildings close around the country over safety concerns. Still, local governments refuse to take steps to make their communities safer. In San Francisco, the work-from-home memo was sent the day after San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins blamed the city’s judges for releasing people accused of drug offenses before trial, saying “We do everything we can and you can see the same person out on the street the same day.”
Jenkins gets to the true heart of the problem. Our America supports stronger sentences for repeat offenders as well as programs to reduce reoffending and increased monitoring of those most likely to do so. With common-sense solutions like these, our streets could be made safer without unjustly penalizing first-time offenders or those who truly need help. That would allow all communities to thrive.