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.
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