Randy Shaw

San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood is often associated with poverty, crime and drug use. But to attorney and activist Randy Shaw, who has worked in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, the Tenderloin is a success story. In his new book “The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco,” Shaw explores the history of the neighborhood and argues that it’s a model for how poor areas can improve without triggering displacement or other ill effects of gentrification.

Randy Shaw on How the Tenderloin Survives in a Changing San Francisco 2 June,2015forum

Randy Shaw, author, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and editor of BeyondChron.org

  • anon408

    ahhhh. the TL. As a City paramedic, it is a neighborhhood gone feral. The open drug and alcohol abuse, the madness, the open sewer mentality, the apparent PASS that law enforcement seems to have embraced…it is a sinkhole of resources and a shameful example of what is wrong with san francisco

  • Ben Rawner

    Your guests optimism about removing the plague that are the crack dealers from the TL is laughable. The SFPD turn a blind eye to these sales on every block. The only reason u can think of is that somewhere down the line there are people getting paid off in the SFPD, until this corruption is answered there will be no change.
    Why not focus on providing public bathrooms so the streets are not running with extement and urine? Solve the small problems.

  • InabaML

    I credit your guest’s long-term involvement in the Tenderloin. What I’m hearing in this interview is advocacy that is not based in reality. Yes, the Tenderloin is an iconic SF neighborhood in terms of high-density, anything goes living. The Tenderloin needs to be made safe for families and the elderly who are low-income. Services for the mentally ill and substance dependent should be moved from the center of the city. I see children walking to school who observe behavior on the streets that no child should be exposed to. They should be given a chance.

  • jason

    The Tenderloin reminds me of TImes Square in the 90’s. The Tenderloin needs Rudy Guiliani!

  • I go to the Tenderloin every morning at around 6:00am, and walk from the bus at McAllister and Hyde to Turk and Larkin. This goes right through some of the grimiest sections of the TL, and even at that early hour, the crack dealer on the corner of Hyde and Golden Gate is doing a healthy business.

    But that El Salvadorean crack dealer and his brother now recognize me–and say “good morning” every time I pass by. Their customers also know me and give me similar greetings. As soon as a get off the bus, I’m greeted with a hail of “good mornings” all the way to my destination, a neighborly friendliness that I don’t get anywhere else in The City. The TL’s residents are very protective of each other, and although I’m not a resident, I’ve been recognized as part of the community, and I actually feel quite safe as a woman walking alone. If anyone did pose a threat, there would be a whole crowd of TL residents who would have my back.

  • This is the poorest neighborhood and yet there is no workforce development training, adult basic education nor ESOL classes in the entire neighborhood. There are many many non-profits and faith-based organizations who serve the largely SRO population (4,000 out of 44,000 residents) but there’s nothing for the rest of the community. It’s the most diverse population in all of SF(40% are foreign born), with few who can communicate to the residents who live there (i.e. Vietnamese, Arabic, Mayan, Laotian, etc.). How can these people access programs & services when most everything is done in English? How can we create a more inclusive environment that would serve all?

  • geraldfnord

    Who, beside those committed to it as a cause, lives in the Tenderloin (or any place similar) that can afford to move out therefrom? My limited but non-zero experience with people who grew up in distressed neighbourhoods is of course biased in favour of those who could and wanted to leave, but in my experience poor people not dulled by fear, fatigue, or other drugs are very practical people who might have an hard time understanding not moving somewhere better (in terms of crime-rate, police abuse rates, State services, and cultural viability).

    (Yes, all of the above could be improved in situ, but experience shows that society at large never cares enough, long enough, to make that really work…what are despised minority groups for, anyway, if not for being object lessons in how bad it is not to be One of Us?)

    I wish Mr Shaw luck, but I think he’s talking about palliative measures and the defence of a culture that grew up around poverty. That culture helped people survive, but it is sick, as are all oppressed peoples’ cultures (that is, all pre-Post-Scarcity cultures)*, and for the sake of the actual human beings in it is in need of the changes it would experience if we developed and actual, want-free, civilisation.

    *As per http://www.spectacle.org/0802/hogan.html

  • auweia

    This is what it’s like to get threatened by Randy Shaws drug dealers on the same day he’s on this forum saying ‘ we need to get rid of drug dealers’ http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2sj7xq

  • DeKulakSF

    Shaw touts the turn-around of the TL. But the fact is that over the last 30-40 yrs, the shape of the TL has shifted.

    Where formerly the TL was bounded by Market, Mason, Geary & Hyde, the actual TL has shifted west and north. Now the activitis associated with the TL are all up west to Van Ness, Polk Gulch to above Calfiornia and on many blocks almost to Bush.

    Yes, some blocks near Market are getting better. But the problem hasn’t been eliminated – its just moved!

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