San Francisco business owners demand for city officials to revisit stay-at-home order

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Burglaries are up 75 percent in the San Francisco Richmond District where business owners are blaming the stay-at-home order for an uptick in crime.

It's come down to this, business owners protesting in the rain, hoping San Francisco city officials listen to their plea.

"We have just hit our limit of frustration of being closed and open, closed and open. Investing thousands of dollars in a parklet to be shut down again," said Megan Cornelius, Zazie's Restaurant co-owner.

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Cornelius is among many restaurant owners who are requesting for San Francisco to revisit its indefinite stay-at-home order and let them reopen for outdoor dining.

"Either the city can prove through scientific evidence that outdoor dining is the reason for all these surges," and Cornelius added, "And then if you want to shut us down, provide some assistance. We can't just leave all of our staff unemployed."

Like the saying goes "when it rain, it pours." Because aside from financial setbacks from limited business, now there's a new concern for San Francisco business owners: burglaries.

According to San Francisco Police Department, burglaries have gone up 47 percent from 2019 -2020 citywide, and in the Richmond District, they've gone up 75 percent.

"Theft, burglary, break-ins, vandalism, graffiti: it's expensive and we are already having such a hard time as small businesses," said Morgan Mapes, President of the Clement Street Merchants Association.

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Mapes is keeping track of all the business impacted by crime during the pandemic. In a spreadsheet, Mapes has at least 50 businesses who've been burglarized. Toy Boat Dessert Café is one of them.

"Our damages there are closing in on $20,000 in replacing our windows twice, replace the door and replace our merchandise," said Amanda Michael, owner of Jane The Bakery.

Michael says the stay-at-home order is playing a role in these crimes. "It made our streets really dead at night and I think there is a lot of opportunity for those who are out and about. All these restrictions on businesses have created more financial stress on people."

Down the street at Foggy Notion, there was another break-in. Several blocks down, the same story at Nourish Café.

Sarah Bacon says the latest burglary will cost them close to $1,500 in damages.

"Really a gut-punch to the Inner Richmond and for the Richmond community in general and every small business in the city that is struggling to stay open," said Bacon, Nourish Café owner.

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San Francisco Police responded.

"Residents in the Richmond will see an increased police presence in area that have been hit the hardest by the burglaries," SFPD said in a statement. "This includes an increase in patrols, foot beats and officers on fixed post locations. The SFPD Burglary Detail tracks repeat offenders. This helps us identify burglary series crews and helps connect suspects to other open cases."

Many business owners saying these crimes will go down if they are allowed to reopen, but for now, "Everyone is biting their nails to figure out: who is going to be next? When is it my turn?," said Mapes.

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