The first block of San Francisco’s Turk Street has drastically more violent crime per capita than any other part of the city, including the rest of the Tenderloin neighborhood, according to a study released today by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and Central City SRO Collaboration.
The authors of the report, “Taking Back Turk Street,” analyzed public data compiled by the San Francisco Police Department between November 2010 and May 2011, and found that the first block of Turk Street has 35 times more violent crimes per 1,000 residents than the rest of the city.
During the 168 days surveyed, there were 248 crimes on the block, which is home to just 438 people, many of them who live in single-room occupancy hotels, or SROs.
“When we started this study we knew it was bad, but it’s even worse than we thought,” said co-author Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, located at 34 Turk St.
He and co-author Jonathan Nathan attribute the statistics to a decline in policing and the operation of an alleged nuisance business, Tenderloin Liquor.
The store allegedly violates city planning code regulations meant to curb the effects of alcohol outlets, such as selling malt beverages with more than 5.7 percent alcohol content, selling single servings of beer, and allowing drinking outside the store, according to the report.
Tenderloin Liquor owner Ahmed Said denied the claims.
“We’ve been here for 20 years and have no violations,” he said, pointing to a large sign prohibiting loitering outside the store. “We run a legitimate business.”
Shaw, however, questioned why the first block of Turk Street has five times as much violent crime as the 200 block of Eddy Street, which has several SROs and similar resident demographics.
He also pointed to a 27 percent decrease in the number of officers at the Tenderloin police station since July 2009 — from 101 to 74 — even though the citywide force has only been reduced by 8 percent.
As a result, Shaw and Nathan devised a five-point action plan that includes enforcing liquor regulations, increasing the number of officers in the neighborhood to 91, and improving pedestrian and street lighting.
“This is just a question of why things are acceptable here that are not acceptable elsewhere,” Shaw said.
Deanna Foster, the owner of Farmer Brown restaurant on the corner of Turk and Mason streets, said she also thinks many people have given up on the neighborhood.
“If you sit in our building and watch outside, it plays like an episode of ‘Cops’–without the cops,” she said.
The restaurant has been open five years, but its management decided within a few weeks to start hiring private security after there was a shoot-out on the corner, Foster said.
“For the most part I think we’ve just built a thick skin,” she said.
Janna Brancolini, Bay City News