SF is now boycotting most of the United States

Gavin Newsom likes to say that San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality. Well, okay then. In reality, he’s actually ripping off a line from Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner.

In reality, if you walk west, north, or east in San Francisco, you’re going to get wet; we’re actually surrounded by water. If you walk south, you’ll find yourself in San Mateo. Is San Mateo reality† Perhaps: They do have a Dunkin’ Donuts there.

All of which is to say: San Francisco is a small place, and not self-contained. The American Can Company at Third and 20th streets isn’t clanking and banging 24 hours a day anymore, with workers piling in for three shifts. San Francisco can’t forge the parts it needs to keep its buses running, fix its buildings or run its computers. it has to buy things, lots of things, from elsewhere.

San Francisco makes this hard. It makes it expensive. A March 4 memorandum from City Administrator Carmen Chu reveals that San Francisco will not enter into contracts with businesses headquartered in must of the United States — 28 states in all. Official travel to those states is also forbidden. And this list includes some surprises: Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin.

As a result of this vast boycott, San Francisco is constraining the number of businesses it can ink deals with, which all but certainly inhibits quality and drives up costs. It also adds onerous time constraints to the contracting process, which leads to poor outcomes and also drives up costs.

“It limits our ability to procure products and receive services and contract services we need to run,” explains Chu. “It limits competition for our work.”

Why would we do this? As is the case with so many San Francisco misadventures, it all started with the best of intentions.

At City Hall, June 2020. Photo by Laura Wenus

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