We recently mocked the City of San Francisco about sky-high taxes, rental car break-ins, and suing a rental car company for a toll problem that was created by San Francisco itself. The rental car break-in victims included the Chief of Police and a news crew who recorded the license plate of the burglars. The day after the Board of Supervisors introduced proposed restrictions on rental cars (but not the cars of local residents), there was the theft of human remains from a rental car. We then mocked the proposed rental car restrictions as being ineffective and not addressing the real problem, unchecked crime throughout the city.
There are four updates on the rental car legislation since it was introduced. Thefts from cars have worsened, a gun stolen from a city police officer's personal car was used in a homicide (August), a sheriff's deputy had a gun stolen from a rental car and used in a crime (September), and the Board of Supervisors decided to act on April's proposed rental car legislation.
Rampant Car Break-Ins are NOT a Rental Car Problem
We mocked April's proposed rental car legislation (cars can't have stickers or bar-codes) before it was adopted, and before anyone learned that break-ins were up another 28 percent so far in 2017, with the increase in the Mission District a staggering 182 percent (no, that's not a typo). Given the spike recorded thus far in 2017, San Francisco has less than 1/4th the residents of Los Angeles yet more thefts from vehicles. The city largely ignores the obvious symbols of a visitor and that the problem is for everyone with a car, from the Chief of Police to a casual visitor. As our previous "Q&A" stated:
Question: Don't all the media reports say this is a problem for residents as well as tourists?
Answer: Yes but solving the problem would require a change of police or jailing practices. This was just a way for politicians to say they were taking an action.
Question: If I rent a car outside of San Francisco and drive into town?
Answer: Your fault if the car gets broken into due to a window bar code. Nothing personal, though.
Question: If I rent a Chevy Malibu at the airport with Illinois tags, doesn't that proclaim "tourist in a rental car"?
Answer: The Supervisors didn't consider the license plate aspect, despite being the single-most visible cue to a thief.
Yet that was the first piece of legislation that passed. We offered our insight to the City for free. The City's point wasn't to solve the problem, the point was to do something. The second piece of legislation?
"Another piece of legislation by Board President London Breed would require rental car companies to warn customers about car burglaries and advise them to remove valuables and lock their car doors."
Rather than preventing car break-ins and punishing criminals, the City of San Francisco is requiring rental companies to tell renters San Francisco is a high-crime area.
What is the Rest of the City Doing?
Mourning victims of shootings. Replacing a lot of glass. Hoping their stolen possessions get recovered.
The police department? In the "you've got to be kidding me" file, they recently disbanded the 18-person auto burglary task force. Supervisor Yee wants to reintroduce his legislation from last year (vetoed by the mayor) to have (at least) one person at each police station who is dedicated to property crimes.
There are 10 (ten) stations.
A crisis to any external observer, the process involved removing 18 officers from the task force (setting the total to zero) and then proposing to add 10 "teams of one" -- nothing says "coordination" like groups of one. We don't know how the citizens facing theft deal with the issue. It's not just cars, although cars get the media's attention:
"Despite assurances that all efforts were being made to address the growing issue of car break-ins, home break-ins and bike thefts, the problem has only gotten worse." -- Supervisor Yee
And the same residents encounter theft repeatedly:
"Needing to fix a three or four hundred dollar window on a regular basis is devastating to many families that are barely hanging on in San Francisco as it is." -- Supervisor Ronen
Even though the credit card damage waiver on our personal credit cards would largely cover the cost of window repair, those waivers don't get rid of the hassle of dealing with the rental car companies and don't cover one's personal possessions or property. A quick poll of the AutoSlash team shows we would use a firm like Uber/Lyft (or the world's loudest subway system, BART) instead of driving a car there. I recently flew out to San Francisco to help out a non-profit and didn't rent a car. The city hasn't done anything to suggest a visitor to the region should rent a car.
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