Oct 25, 2022 - News

Utah politicos are fighting over San Francisco crime

Illustration of a number sign made out of crime scene tape.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you've noticed a lot of social media fights over San Francisco in recent days — it's not a sports thing.

What happened: Gov. Spencer Cox ignited a firestorm last week when he blamed "progressive candidates and policies" for a Utah company closing its San Francisco storefront due to crime there.

  • In a LinkedIn post last week, the CEO of the Utah-based outdoor gear merchant Cotopaxi, announced the San Francisco store was closing due to vandalism and theft.
  • He also repeatedly shared a prominent article in which a San Francisco writer for The Atlantic declares her hometown to be a "failed city."
  • The argument continued for days as some Utahns defended the Golden Gate City and other Utah elected officials weighed in.

Why it matters: San Francisco's rising property crime rate has been a popular right-wing talking point as the city recently recalled progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin.

  • Cox's criticism rankled some Utahns, who called it divisive and snide — a contradiction of the image Cox has nurtured nationally as a compassionate moderate.
  • It also led to a debate over statistical claims as to what policies actually correlate with rising crime.

The other side: Cox's critics pointed to San Francisco's longtime unaffordability as the main driver of crime there, not progressive policies.

  • Others noted homelessness and poverty also exist in conservative states like Utah.

By the numbers: For anyone interested in the correlation between policy and crime in San Francisco, the news site SFGate.com did a thorough analysis of the data during the Boudin recall campaign.

  • Many, but not all, claims of rampant crime have exaggerated both how exceptional San Francisco's crime rates are, and their connection to specific "progressive" policies, the analysis found.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Salt Lake City.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Salt Lake City stories

Salt Lake Citypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Salt Lake City.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more