What About Bob? A Quality of Life Editorial From The Director


One of my first conversations in and about the Tenderloin was with Kathy Looper. She asked the question “What about Bob?” Bob is a senior citizen living at the Cadillac Hotel. She later introduced me to him. The point Kathy was making is that Bob’s front yard is the sidewalk and that he has a right to a clean, safe sidewalk. A place that he can meet friends, get fresh air and just enjoy the day.

According to the City’s Planning Department there are 5439 single room occupancy dwellings, 35% of the total housing in the Tenderloin. That means there are potentially 5439 Bobs that daily encounter aggressive behavior around drug dealing, open drug use and a significant degree of unhealthy behavior in their front yard.

What about the families? The City estimates that the population of the Tenderloin is 27,636 of which 25% are housed in family units. Estimates of children living in the Tenderloin range from 2000 to 4000. As these families and these children go to work and school each day, the sidewalk is their front yard too. It should be a place where they can safely play and gather to meet friends.


What about the businesses? There are 3046 businesses, as identified by business licenses, located in the Tenderloin. Many of our business owners struggle on a daily basis, witnessing drug sales, drug use, and inappropriate sidewalk behavior.  Businesses have a right to a safe and clean pathway for their customers.

The negative factors affecting the quality of life in the Tenderloin must be addressed! It is not acceptable that the Tenderloin is:

·      The preferred location in the City to sell illegal drugs

·      The easiest location in the City to buy illegal drugs

·      The neighborhood with the highest instances of open drug and alcohol use in the City

The approach to the crime and drug issues must change. The community, working together, needs to develop an active partnership with SFPD. We will not be able to simply “Police” our way to a better quality of life. I believe strongly that the community, supported by the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, must lead the process to improve the Tenderloin.

What can the community do? One thing, that is already happening, is to organize to improve your block. There are at least five block groups that have begun to organize to proactively develop action plans for improvement. You may not know of them yet, but the improvements on their blocks are noticeable.

The Tenderloin community must raise its collective voice. It must clearly state:

“We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore!”

To get involved in making these positive changes, join us for Tenderloin Talk Live on Sept 7th, 5-7pm, at 631 O’Farrell. We will directly work to answer the questions, What can you do and how can we, the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, help to work through the quality of life issues negatively affecting the neighborhood.

Join us in conversation! Register on Eventbrite here.

For questions, to RSVP by phone or request childcare, please call the TLCBD office at (415) 292-4812 and leave a detailed message with name and contact, we'll get back to you.


Steve Gibson

Executive Director

Tenderloin Community Benefit District