Today I'm on a flight from Toronto heading down to San Francisco for Udemy Live. On Saturday, I'll be leading a little session to help instructors find other instructors to work with. If you're reading this in time, be sure and come out for that session.
I have mixed feelings about San Francisco as a city. Quite frankly, it has a ton of potential to be a great city, but I think that potential has not been realized. I don't know enough about the history of the city to know why it has this problem more than most American cities, although I would love to know more about why.
When I stay in San Francisco, I stay on Market Street downtown. Now, I understand how the downtown areas of cities don't represent the city as a whole, but I have been all over the world and there's not anything I've seen elsewhere that compares to what I see in San Francisco.
Before you even arrive there, you get hit with the problem of high hotel costs. My hotel is costing me $299 per night for my stay there, and I booked it several months in advance. Looking around at other hotels, you don't save all that much. Now friends of mine stay in AirBnB's, but then you end up in locations away from the downtown area. And personally, I'd rather have a hotel room where I can come and go as I please, instead of staying in a room in a house, or staying with 5-6 other people.
OK, so I will pay $1000+ for a weekend in San Francisco, just for the hotel.
But then you get there, check into your hotel, and want to go for a walk. Right outside the hotel, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, there's a guy sleeping (passed out) on the sidewalk. People walk around him. Half a block away, two more people laying on the sidewalk asleep.
Now there are homeless people everywhere – even in Toronto where I'm from. But the fact that they are prevalent on the main street (Market Street) of that city makes the problem stand out.
A couple of years ago, my wife and I went for a walk. We wanted to go from our Hotel to the Painted Ladies – a famous San Fran landmark that seemed a reasonable walking distance away. It would be about a 45 minute walk – nothing wrong with that right?
During that walk, we walked through a scene that seemed surreal at the time.
Imagine walking along a street where there were 40 other people, but nobody was moving. Everyone was standing stationary. Some on the sidewalk. Some on the grass. Some in an open square. Nobody except us was moving. It was freaky. What was up with that? Why is everyone just standing around?
On the positive side, it was really interesting to be walking around past the offices of companies I have used the products of. Here you have LinkedIn's head office, here is Optimizely, here is Udemy, here is Twitter…. There are a lot of very smart people in San Francisco. No doubt some of the smartest tech people in the world. There is so much money there! So much!
But how can they walk around all those drugged out people lying on the sidewalk?
Some of those smart people should work on their drug problem. My 2 cents.