Rampant retail theft hollowing out San Francisco: State legislature’s dereliction of duty contributing to making city a commercial ghost town

The state director for California’s leading small-business association — The National Federation of Independent Business — today called on Governor Gavin Newsom and the California state legislature to pull their heads out of the sand and confront a crisis of their own creation — the rampant retail theft caused by Proposition 47, which most of them still defend.

“If the retail hollowing out of one of the nation’s most visited destinations doesn’t crash cymbals next to their ears, their tone deafness will make them national examples of how not to govern,” said John Kabateck, California state director for the NFIB. “The first duty of all governments is to provide for the public safety.”

Kabateck’s ire was re-ignited by this report from The San Francisco Standard.

“A downtown San Francisco Target store sees at least 10 thefts a day … It comes as the city deals with the impending loss of two nearby Nordstrom stores closing due to ‘unsafe conditions’ and the recent news of Whole Foods shutting down at Market and Eighth streets.”

In a previous news release, Kabateck pointed out, “Even our state’s progressive attorney general has acknowledgedthat ‘organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk. Why, then, the quick, unceremonious death of Senate Bill 316 and the sentencing of Assembly Bill 1708 to legislative limbo? Both measures sought to make modest modifications to Prop. 47 that would not have threatened the main goals of the ballot measure that passed in November 2014, and both enjoyed bipartisan support. “What is it about the highly flawed and mis-sold Proposition 47 that has turned so many of California’s legislators into cult-like worshipers of it? They willfully and stubbornly will not recognize any flaw in their criminal creed.

According to staff analysis of AB 1708, “Since Proposition 47 eliminated the use of felony options for most serial theft cases, law enforcement generally only use a misdemeanor citation, which usually results in the suspect being immediately released … With the rise in retail theft and the lack of accountability, a recent survey by UC Berkeley highlighted that a majority of California voters would like to see changes made to Proposition 47 to better address theft crimes.”

According to Kabateck, debate over the issue should not overlook the fact that “the more pervasive, common-place retail theft crimes are not just the organized ones hitting big stores, they also strike the most vulnerable, including small, ethnic business owners, employees, customers and families in our communities.”

About NFIB
NFIB is a partner in the Californians Against Retail & Residential Theft coalition where more information can be found. Keep up with the latest on California small-business news at www.nfib.com/california or by following NFIB on Twitter @NFIB_CA or on Facebook @NFIB.CA. For 80 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven association. Since its founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, visit nfib.com.