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It’s often described as a crisis, but the despair on San Francisco’s streets is much more. Jim Wilson, the San Francisco bureau photographer, and I set out to document a single block to get a better sense of the desperate conditions in one of the richest cities in the United States.
We asked the statisticians at city hall to compile a list of blocks that received the most complaints about filth. The 300 block of Hyde Street topped the list. (Seven of the top 10 dirtiest streets were in the Tenderloin.) We spoke with residents, the unsheltered who huddle under blankets each night in the Tenderloin, Mayor London Breed and the police about their perspectives.
I’m as progressive as anybody else in the Bay Area, but I do notice that SF doesn’t seem to have the visible police force that exists in other cities. The sad fact is that San Francisco is a beautiful city marred by pure human misery. It’s hard to ignore when you step over heroin needles and human feces every day on the way to work. I don’t believe anyone *wants* to live on the street – they need help. Until we take a multi-faceted approach, this problem will never get better. — Anne Berglund
As a native and resident of San Francisco, I am appalled by the proliferation of tents pitched on our neighborhood sidewalks and the filth generated because of it. I’ve been here 60 years and I am, saddened to say, ready to leave. — Lori Grey
I wish we could have heard perspectives from the homeless people who are living in these conditions. I imagine they also don’t like living the way they are and similarly smell the squalor. Although I don’t live in California, I still think it is unfair to simply portray homeless people as disgusting ‘indigents’ without trying to learn personally why some of them found themselves dependent on drugs and living on the street. In another world the average nytimes reader could easily find themselves in similar circumstances. — M D, Ontario, Canada
I want to make clear that this is not just an issue for the Tenderloin, which can always be dismissed as the “sketchy” part of town. I’ve lived in the Castro for 20 years and the homeless situation has been established in the last few years and continues to flourish.
Take a walk through the residential streets in the morning and you will find people sleeping in doorways, behind bushes and hidden stairways, often leaving behind their refuse and scraps of clothing. I don’t know what the answer is, but what is currently being done is clearly not working, and the result will be a drop in tourist revenue, with businesses and long-time residents moving away. It’s very difficult for a tax-paying resident to maintain empathy and ward off cynicism. — Scotharr
I am a frequent visitor to SF. One long-standing habit is to discard my shoes upon returning home, as on walks it is hard to avoid human urine and feces. Then there are the unrelenting and often aggressive confrontations for handouts, many from people in desperate need of services. It is hard to reconcile the lofty rhetoric and lectures on government issuing from the Golden State, with the stark reality of SF. — LTJ, Utah
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
• A landmark report on climate change says its immediate consequences could be felt as soon as 2040 — while we’re all still alive. [The New York Times]
• The report, from a United Nations scientific panel, describes a world of worsening food shortages and poverty, more wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs. President Trump has said nothing about it. [The New York Times]
• More than 40 governments around the world, including California, have put a price on carbon. The scientific panel said doing so will be central for getting global warming under control. [The New York Times]
• The two candidates for governor — Gavin Newsom and John Cox — met for their only scheduled debate. Here’s what we learned. [The New York Times]
• About 1,500 people may have been improperly registered to vote in California by the Department of Motor Vehicles. At least one, and perhaps many more, are legal residents who are not citizens. [The Associated Press]
• The Diocese of San Bernardino County released a list of 34 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children. [The San Bernardino Sun]
• Two former investigators questioned a pair of major lottery jackpots that they believed were improperly awarded to people who could not prove they were winners. Then they lost their jobs. [The Sacramento Bee]
• Google says it will shut down Google Plus after it discovered a security vulnerability that exposed the private data of up to 500,000 users. [The New York Times]
• Marc Benioff, the Salesforce chief executive, has come out in support of Proposition C. The measure would tax big businesses like his to raise millions for homeless programs. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
• Facebook introduced a pair of video-calling devices — Portal and Portal Plus — to help expand its reach into people’s living rooms. [The New York Times]
• For 40 years, Margaret Kivelson, a physicist at U.C.L.A., has been uncovering the outer solar system’s secrets. Few scientists know more about the mysteries of Jupiter and its icy moons. [The New York Times]
• With a three-run home run in the seventh inning, Manny Machado helped the Dodgers finish off Atlanta, 6-2. [The Los Angeles Times]
• SingleThread, a restaurant and inn, opened without much fanfare in early December 2016 in Healdsburg. Within 10 months, it got two Michelin stars. Then the culinary world took notice. [The New York Times]
• David Silverman has carved out a role as the James Boswell of architecture in Beverly Hills and other exclusive Los Angeles enclaves. His vanity books tell the histories of houses that played host to Golden Age movie stars and moguls. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
Is your wonderful dog really as smart as you say?
A recent study published in the journal Learning & Behavior suggests the answer is probably not. In fact, the authors argue that dogs are no more exceptional than other animals when it comes to canniness and intelligence. They reviewed existing studies and data on animal cognition and found that while dogs are certainly smart and trainable, they are not “super smart,” despite what you might want to believe.
You can read more about the study here. But keep in mind: One of the study’s authors admits he is a cat person.
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
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