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San Francisco has more drug addicts than students enrolled in public high school (marginalrevolution.com)
64 points by MagicPropmaker 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

There are less high school students in SF, period. There are less children in general. This is due to a large number of variables I don't see being controlled, and a severe lack of source information.

I'm much more worried about the 10%+ dropout rates.

Interestingly, there are a ton more kids (especially pre-school age kids) in my neighborhood than there were when I moved here 8 years ago.

The combination of high housing prices in Bay Area suburbs and more yuppies willing to stay in the city has noticeably altered the demographics. There are now fewer groups of single 20-somethings walking about, and more families.

I will be curious to see the numbers at the next census.

Our pre-school age kid (mission/noe area), my brother's kid, and a number of his friends all moved out of the city before they reached school age. (Some to the bay area and other's further out.)

Most of the kids pre-school are waiting on their school lottery, though right?

Do you think they'll stick around if they don't get into a well regarded school?

Exactly. The comparison is useless except as clickbait

I think it's useful as far as making the amount stick in the brain. For like 90% of America a stat like that is a hugely disturbing figure.

The stat (more drug addicts than students) is actually true for all of America's population as well, so I'd imagine the same is true in just about any major US population center.

Do people actually like SF? I try to avoid going there as much as possible. It's not even really a city, but more just a place where exurbanites congregate from 9 to 5 to conduct commerce. I've never encountered a more soulless, hollow, and overall depressing place in my entire life.

As an outsider from a small village in New Hampshire who loves visiting cities, its quite shocking to me just how bad it was. San Francisco I fear may be the most overrated city on earth. Astonishingly lifeless to walk around for two days compared to Boston, Paris, Lisbon, Montreal. A network of disjointed suburbs, blocks of nothingness vaguely stitched together, even the places with alleged "culture". Food and weather were the only redeemers. (note I have been to SF only twice now, in 2010 and for longer in 2018).

Maybe I spent hours and hours sauntering through all the wrong parts. I could have totally missed the worthwhile bits of the city, just as I can imagine a visitor to Paris doing. But I'm starting to think that the people who live in San Francisco are, in some sense, kidding themselves. Or at least they don't travel much.

(For Europeans, I'd compare the lack of interesting-ness to Geneva, maybe.)

I've been in SF most of my life. The city has been heavily impacted by tech ever since the dot com era, but it's built on some robust cultural foundations: Waves of arts and landscaping projects dating back to Adolph Sutro, the nearby academic influence of Berkeley and Stanford in addition to smaller local institutions(for example, the Exploratorium - a great place for kids, and still fun for adults), a variety of social movements that have swept through the city from the Gold Rush era onwards, multiple ethnic immigrant cultures, and access to nature.

These are things you appreciate and can grow from by living here in the long term, but are easy to miss if all you do is walk around and see low-rise buildings and homeless people. There are far more exciting cities in terms of bustle and grandeur, and more livable, well-maintained, inexpensive cities for everyday activity.

Once planned to spend 2 days in Geneva, left after 3 hours. Dullest city I've been to. Lake was a nice sight but that's pretty much it.

I've been in SF for 6 months and it's the best city I've ever lived in. Walking is one of my favorite activities and I can get everywhere by foot. A bus line on every street or $5 Lyft if I need to move quicker. The weather is amazing. There's a tech-first culture with hundreds of free events everyday.

I doubt you've had a chance to explore the city district-by-district if you think it's soulless.

There are many homeless people but they don't bother anyone and they're a product of the city's open culture.

Out of curiosity, what other cities have you lived in?

I've lived in few (San Diego, Boston, Phoenix, Los Angeles), visited many more in the US and abroad for work, I'd rank San Francisco near the bottom of the pack.

This might not be the case for you, but many people I've met who really love SF moved here in their 20s. Any city is going to be amazing at that age -- you're young and independent and thriving on the new experiences a city provides. Naturally, you're going to form an attachment.

Most people who move to SF later in their life seem less tolerant of its many problems.

Getting kind of off topic, just curious (as someone who has visited all the cities on your list as well as SF and lived in another five cities): what is the soul of Phoenix? My impression (from an admittedly short trip) was that of a souless wasteland where people moved from ACed building to ACed building by ACed car. It was like the outdoors was a minefield or something.

Not saying my impression was right. Maybe there are limits on what can be gleaned from a trip, as suggested by the parent.

I lived in San Francisco for a few years after living in San Diego, LA, DC, Cincinnati and southern Florida, and I now live in NYC. I liked San Francisco the least. Only thing I really miss is living a couple blocks from Good Mong Kok. That and the coffee.

In which other major cities have you lived?

Off topic but curious - How do you find events?


How many other cities have lived in to compare it to?

It is a city, by literally all definitions. Nearly 900,000 people live here, making it the second densest city in the United States. So there's a lot here to be found if you bother to look for it, or just generally know how to navigate a city.

Perhaps if you are coming here to conduct commerce and nothing else it will just feel like... a place to conduct commerce! But that's something you can say about every financial district in the world. The places that have "soul" are almost never the places dominated by office towers.

Don't get me wrong, SF has many, many serious problems. Not being a city is not among them.

>Nearly 900,000 people live here, making it the second densest city in the United States


Uh... it depends on where you draw the line for city.

It could be anywhere between 1 through 21

> It's not even really a city, but more just a place where exurbanites congregate from 9 to 5 to conduct commerce.

Definitely not the case. Lots of people live in the city of San Francisco, though it's also true a lot of people commute in from the South and East Bays.

There are good things about the city, but the homeless problem (and really, that's what I think this is about) is a very serious issue that makes the place much, much less desirable.

> a place where exurbanites congregate from 9 to 5 to conduct commerce

That describes many cities so much better than it describes SF.

To answer your question. I like it alright. Not enough to live there. But filled with 9-5ers? When I think of SF I think of the incredibly packed dolores park on a sunny saturday, the small 2 story homes running towards the ocean in outer sunset, or the huge amount of music venues.

Yes, I lived there for ten years and miss it.

I lived near 24th and mission spent most of my non-work time in that area (mission / noe valley). I took BART to work and back. I picked up groceries at local grocery stores, fishmonger, and butcher. There was a butcher, fishmonger, and grocery stores nearby, with both south-east asian and hispanic ingredients.

Mission street has various grocery stores, hispanic restaurants, and Sun Fat Seafood. Valencia had some quirky stores, good restaurants, and coffee shops. If you head east on 24th, it's similar to mission, plus dynamo donunts and humphrey slocombe ice cream. West on 24th is Noe Valley, which is a little more upscale and full of people with either strollers or dogs. Lots of single-family and small multi-unit housing in the area.

It had pretty much everything I needed in walking distance.

The financial district does fit your description (it's a ghost town on weekends), but I presume that's typical of financial districts.

It's difficult to like if you don't live there. If you come from outside you first start by paying the obnoxious entry fee (toll) just to cross into it. Then there is zero free parking, and I've seen it as high as $50-$60 for one day to park in the marina. If you do try to park on a street late at night (going to a club) you are really rolling the dice on whether your car gets broken into. Also, it smells like weed and/or feces everywhere.

But if you lived in say, the Mission, and didn't own a car, those things would be mitigated. (You'd get used to the smell).

I'm not sure I'd get used to the smell of human shit and weed.

I've lived here for 5 years and love it. So many neighborhoods with their own charm, food, culture, etc. So much to do, people are open-minded, weather is great. I just don't go to Market St unless I'm going to work, and I avoid the bro-culture by hanging out in different neighborhoods. I would definitely not describe this place as "soul-less".

I love San Francisco. It sounds like when you say SF what you mean is SOMA and FiDi (which even then SOMA has lots going on further down market). There is still so much going on in SF even though the crushing expense of its rent is horrible.

I personally loved little Italy. The espresso was amazing and so were the little restaurants, but I couldn't live there. It's too expensive and the place was a little rough but I still liked my visit.

Just because you don't like a city does not mean it isn't a city.

"exurbanites congregate from 9 to 5 to conduct commerce." There is more to the city than few blocks of offices in downtown area.

I’d imagine it’s a great city to be in conditional on being homeless. Nice weather year-round and you aren’t paying the exorbitant rents.

24,500 injection drug users in SF means they are classifying one in in every 36 people as a "drug addict". This amount, if true, is over 20x higher than the national mean. Maybe it's true, but I find it difficult to believe that 1 in 32 SF adults are shooting up.

After visiting there last year, I think this number is believable.

Considering that states like Texas used to publicly brag about taking care of their homeless and druguser populations by shipping them to California, it's totally believable that there are a large number of (non-local) drug addicts now living in SF.

For the record, Texas still openly admits to shipping its homeless and drug addicts to California.

After living there for a couple of yeas, it's probably correct.

I think the mean is a bad metric to use. Drug users are not distributed uniformly. There are certainly places where thr murder rate is more than 20x somewhere else, so the number is plaisible to me.

San Francisco has more Doggy Day care than Kid Day care...


San Francisco has more (drug addicts) than (students enrolled in highschool)


San Francisco has more (drug addicts than students) enrolled in highschool.

I'm ashamed to admit I had to follow all the way to the source PDF to figure that one out.

The second one doesn't make a lot of sense because you can't have more drug addicts enrolled in highschool than students enrolled in highschool because all drug addicts that are also enrolled in highschool would be students.

Unless them being enrolled, but not attending class because they are drug addicts makes them not students.

> There are about 24,500 injection drug users in San Francisco — that’s about 8,500 more people than the nearly 16,000 students enrolled in San Francisco Unified School District’s 15 high schools

That didn't clear it up for you?

I skimmed the title, glanced at what passed for an article, decided that was short enough to not be an original source, saw the PDF, realized the mistake, read the PDF, went back and read the original link.

So, it probably would have cleared it up, had I decided that "Marginal Revolution" sounded like a reliable source, or if it had been a bit longer. I skimmed, and that's on me :/

Just FYI marginal revolution is one of the best economics blogs online. It's a very credible source

I don’t understand the second forumulation. What is (drug addicts than students) as an entity?

I think the parent is implying students can be drug addicts, and the drug addict figure is a set that include high school students.

More drug addicts enrolled than students enrolled

More correctly:

San Francisco has more drug addicts than San Francisco has students enrolled in highschool.

The homeless population in SF is insane. The sidewalks smell like piss and occasionally you try not to step over human feces. At this point I'm surprised that a hot startup in SF hasn't invented an industrial grade Roomba to clean up the sidewalks.

Seems like a strange statistic - high school encompasses only 4 years of a person's life, whereas there's no (practical) limit on when someone can be an addict.

It helps put in perspective on just how many addicts there are.

Using a number like 25000 is difficult to understand in your head.

4 years is a lot of time!

You probably see or are aware of high school age individuals throughout your day-to-day.

Now imagine for every 1 high school age young-adult, your city also has 1.5 injection drug addicts.

I think that puts things in perspective pretty well.

For a city like SF, probably more illustrative to show how many addicts there are for each programmer or Tesla.

Not only that, but it isn't clear how many kids are in private schools, or even what the demographics are of both groups.

Comments on the website are so weird. Is it a legitimate news source?

The Marginal Revolution comments section is famously terrible compared to the above the fold content. You can follow links provided to the source material though.

Shouldn't this be linking to the the source article rather than a block post that just quotes two lines of it?


I think the title is somewhat misleading. When they discussed this on NPR yesterday it was "more street injection drug users" than high schoolers.

I have no doubt there are more drug addicts than high schoolers. I think you'd be hard pressed to find any major city where that isn't true. If your definition of a drug addict is anyone who uses drugs (including marijuana) regularly.

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