We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Begging and General safety

Which San Francisco hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Level Contributor
1 post
22 reviews
Save Topic
Begging and General safety

I have just returned from a three day trip in San Francisco. I had previously visited 4 years ago and was surprised in the increased number of people begging, who appear to be under the influence. I accept it is a issue in all large cities around the world, however it was a constant issue throughout the day in every area. We stopped the south west side of Market Street where it was more prevalent to the point where they seem to roam in groups and it is an intimidating environment to the point in the evening we travelled by taxi, where previously I would have used the tram and walked. It seemed less of a issues towards the Piers and China town. San Francisco is one of my favourite US cities, and I was planning to take my family, however I would now consider where I stopped.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
2,527 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Begging and General safety

I'm curious by "southwest side of market street" do you mean the area between about 6th street and south van ness and south of market?

That area is known as "mid market" (since market continues all the way to the Castro to the south west and almost to the bay on the north east). It has become a political issue with politicians trying to clean it up (though they've promised for a while and this isn't a new issue). The latest mayor is trying to drop companies like Twitter on top of the area with tax breaks or redevelopment money in hopes that it will make some of the problem elements go away.

We generally advise people that there are better places to stay when they book a cheap (for San Francisco) hotel in that area. I can't really think of too many reasons tourists would go to this neighborhood, otherwise.

I'm sorry it sounds like it affected your enjoyment of your trip.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
60,754 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Begging and General safety

It is always important to ask question in a new city before you pick a hotel.

It sounds like you discovered this forum after your trip so you were not able to get hotel advice here. I agree that others should always check where they are staying with the folks on the forum as some areas are much more affected by this issue than others.

Level Contributor
1,136 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: Begging and General safety

The sheer numbers of people seemingly living on the street in San Francisco is remarkable. Many beg. Their threat to actual safety is negligible, rarely ever an issue. But for sure, seeing disheveled, probably dysfunctional, people can be distracting, upsetting, maybe even scary especially in such numbers. There’s no doubt, visitors just like you would prefer not seeing or encountering them. Books have been written about the causes and solutions – none of which seem to make homelessness disappear.

San Francisco is not alone in the U.S. in having to deal with this and related social problems but there is an intense concentration of street people in the general area of the Civic Center and Tenderloin. In part – this is just my opinion - the City is simply a better place to land if you got to be homeless. These days there are homeless people in small towns and suburbs. In those places they are dispersed and less visible. I don’t know about the other TA’s but if I were going to be homeless, I’d pick San Francisco. I might not be able to afford a home there anymore but that’s not a problem, is it, if you’re going the homeless route?

I read your review: you stayed at the Best Western Americana on 7th Street. You could not have found a more centrally located hotel had you intended immersing yourselves in San Francisco’s homeless phenomena. Had you stayed near Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street or many other areas, your impression might have been very different. You could still encounter individuals who are seemingly street people and have crossed the area where you hotel is located encountering what you did, but I wonder if your take-away impression might have been very different.

I hope nothing too annoying happened. It would be rare - even where you stayed - so long as you avoid engaging, visibly reacting, being rude, or fixing extending eye contact. The advice for all visitors is that if people ask for money simply say “sorry” making only passing – kind hopefully – eye contact. It will work well.

4. Re: Begging and General safety

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

Our staff may also remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason. Thanks for being a part of the TripAdvisor travel community!

Removed on: 28 May 2014, 18:20
San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,629 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Begging and General safety

I do wish you had checked here first. We would have been emphatic in our opinions not to stay on 7th St. We would have described the situation to you because what you describe would have been no surprise to us.

In fact we have been asked not just about this area but this specific hotel and here's just a sample of what we had to say:





Forum regulars are always disconcerted when people find us AFTER they've had a bad experience and use the forum to diss the situation. Because if you had found us first you would have been able to avoid the situation. But hopefully this thread will be of service to some lurkers.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Atlantic City
Level Contributor
4,765 posts
334 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Begging and General safety

As an avid member of the TA community, and a huge fan of San Francisco, i would like to say "bravo" to the above posts/members for being accurate and more so very,very professional. Some forums I read, other members ridicule and make fun of someones poor choice of hotel,restaurant, etc...CONGRATULATIONS again to all of you for doing a great job. It is appreciated! See you in SF.

Level Contributor
3,298 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Begging and General safety

I have to agree on it being a bad choice of location, as a lot of the Homeless live near or under the freeways. Our homeless problem stems from an overly Liberal City Government, combined with an easy climate, add to that free Bus tickets from other cities trying to get rid of their own problems.

Best thing is no not make eye contact with the street people, and just keep walking. Never give them money, and if feeling guilty, donate money to one of the Charities like Glide Memorial or St Anthony's that provide assistance to everyone.

Anaheim, California
Level Contributor
25,711 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Begging and General safety

I agree with post 7, both for the causes, and what to do if you want to help out. (aka do not give money directly to a single person, give it to a charity).

One I like that is focused on disadvantaged kids is the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco. The kids are not usually at fault, and make sure they are fed and are given shelter is a good thing, instead of giving a "bum" (aka Homeless Person) some money that could easily go to buying drugs and/or alcohol.


Edited: 28 May 2014, 19:41
Level Contributor
1,343 posts
68 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Begging and General safety

To piggyback on SFNATIV's comments, there are also lots of people, both tourists and locals who feel sorry for them and give them money. I sometimes feel bad about it but I never give them money. I only contribute to organizations I feel are helping. BTW, if I could choose a place to be homeless, it would be Oahu ;-)

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
38,553 posts
1,019 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Begging and General safety

The "secret" is to just never make eye-contact, or stop to chat. Walk by with a purpose, and do not look back. Some areas have a bit higher concentration of panhandlers, so if you encounter such, perhaps chose another route back.

Good luck,