Downtown San Francisco Is A Hellscape And The Four Seasons Is Bankrupt

The Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero owner has defaulted on its property loans. The hotel was acquired for $126.6 million in 2019 or ~ $816,000 per key. They owe $72.5 million, are over $3 million behind in making payments, and have defaulted.

The hotel occupies the top 11 floors of the 48-story tower at 345 California Street (though its address is 222 Sansome Street). It was opened in 1986 as the Mandarin Oriental.

Credit: Four Seasons San Francisco Embarcadero

It’s not the first hotel in the city to go bust. For instance, the Hilton SF Union Square and Parc 55 surrendered to their lender last June, with the Hilton Financial District also defaulted on a $97 million loan.

Some observers argue that the Four Season’s problems are its location – but it’s precisely what’s happened to the location that creates the problems. San Francisco’s problems of crime, drugs on the street, and homelessness are hardly limited to the location around the Four Seasons. Here’s about a mile and a half away:

@freqmeek San Francisco Tenderloin Area Effects of The Fentanyl Crisis and The People Affected By This Epidemic. Where is our protection ? There are so many concerns and protections in place for drug users and homeless people but what about the working class that have to pray that they make it to and from work in this environment. These are real dangers faced every single day just to be able to provide for your family . They got money for war but can’t feed the poor. These elected officials both republican and democrats continue to fail the people. No humanity.. We have a crisis right here in our backyard and we’re funding wars in other countries .. #fyp #communityleader #dreamkeeper #sf #mayorlondonbreed #govgavinnewsom #fentanylkills #fentanylcrisis #opiobsessed #anxiety #relief #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #homeless #community #change #addiction #protect #humanity #safety #cityofsf #49ers #gsw #gswarriors #tragedy #crisis #epidemic #warondrugsfailure #electedofficials #sfblogger #culture #lifeinsf #mentalhealthmatters #accesstohealthcare #shaderoom #hollywood #joebiden #kamalaharris #sfpd #help #humanity #failedgovernment #politics ♬ original sound – FreqMeek

The pandemic made it vulnerable to these problems – people left (whether for LA or other states), and the reason to stay in San Francisco was because of the other people who there there. Work from home and work from anywhere increasingly meant being in San Francisco was no longer the exclusive path to success in tech and adjacent industries.

To be fair, San Francisco’s policies aren’t exclusively of its own making. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that cities can’t clear homeless encampments without providing adequate shelter, and the standard for what that is remains unclear. However other cities within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit are covered by the same ruling and not nearly as troubled and they managed a clean up in advance of President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting there in November.

This is sad for me. Growing up, my dad lived here. I spent a lot of time in San Francisco. It’s not the same city it was 40 or even 20 years ago.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. We’ve lived in the bay area for 30 years and just can’t go downtown anymore. I mean ANYWHERE in SF. Your car WILL be broken into no matter where you park in the city. It’s sad but we just can’t go downtown anymore with a car.

  2. @L3 – “They already have. It’s called Texas, or Florida, or any small town.”

    I have a home near Pensacola, and a home near Denver.

    The drug addicted & homeless living under the expressway in Pensacola would likely disagree with your assessment.

    Texas? — “Among the largest homeless encampments are the “tent cities” which existed over the last decade, in various parts of Dallas: under I-45 near downtown[2], I-45 at I-30 approximately one mile south of downtown[3], and on a plot of land near Malcolm X Blvd.”

    “In 2022, an estimated 92,955 people experienced homelessness in Texas. In January 2024, advocates and volunteers estimated that more than 27,000 people were homeless in Texas, with 43% living on the streets. ”

    The problem is only solved when you willingly choose to ignore it, as Texas and Frorida do.

  3. @Zebraitis : ” “Among the largest homeless encampments are the “tent cities” which existed over the last decade, in various parts of Dallas: under I-45 near downtown[2]”
    No. I live round the corner. Called the city on 311 and they cleared it up. And you obviusly never saw it. It was miniscule — and you say that was the largest? Then we don’t have a problem.

    Did you exclude the border towns that have been Bidenized by Democrat policies?

    Streets are good here away from the border — except Dem. controlled Austin. Those druggies defecating outside City Hall in SFO — that is what you are ignoring.

  4. I have regularly visited the Bay Area multiple times per year for the last several decades. And yes, many parts of the Bay Area are great. However, I used to look forward to spending days in San Francisco, but it’s been years since I felt that way. Yes, there are still nice parts, but it’s denial or “frog in the pot of water boiling” to not recognize the pervasive slide that has occurred. I still go into the city, but it’s stressful, at best less beautiful — if not ugly — and at times simply scary.

    People in my professional world used to LOVE holding conferences in San Francisco. Colleagues from around the country (and world) would campaign for it. Not anymore. The suggestion came up recently and overwhelming responses were along the lines of “why in the hell would we want hold it there?”

    Tragic and sad.

  5. I actually find the city to be quite lovely still. I am honestly not understanding all the knee jerk press. With that, I am very happy though that hotel rates are falling so much as everyone stays away. Works for me. Keep saying it’s a war zone! Please! My trips there the past year for work have cost half the price and I could actually get a table at Spruce, my fav restaurant, the same evening.

  6. At some point the ‘homeless rights’ folks need to factor in the harm the street living drug scene presence creates for many more residents because visitors choose to go elsewhere.

    For those who blame Reagan for deinstitutionalizing recall the original drive to deinstitutionalize were advocates of the mentally ill who felt the institutions were harmful. Yes there was a case for that but the solution would have been to improve them, not cry to release altogether as they advocated.

    A long tale through history – path to XXX is paved with good intentions

  7. I have to agree with a lot of these comments that point it it’s actually not too different in the Tenderloin than it was in the 1990s when I lived there. In fact, I was back last week for a lovely visit.

    No, one issue with SF is that no one works downtown anymore. That’s not the homeless, that’s the tech workers. They came in, colonized, and retreated. There is no easy fix for a downtown core that doesn’t have workers.

    Another issue is that “homelessness” in Johannesburg is called “poverty”. Until we stop calling this something that it is not – like in some bizarre world that a mentally ill person with a drug habit and with no income just needs a “home” – we’re going to get nowhere.

    Finally, as anyone who has actually been to SF recently can attest, it’s a lovely place outside of those downtown core areas like UN Plaza and the Tenderloin. In fact, the financial district is as clean as it as ever been, not to mention the various neighborhoods with gorgeous parks and greenspaces.

    So, it’s not just the politicians fault. It’s all of ours. But I suggest you visit before you start talking about something you know nothing about. It usually helps, as every traveler knows.

  8. For the record, It was JFK, not Reagan that “deinstitutionalized the mentally ill” Part of the “community mental health” movement.
    It is always entertaining to read the “homers” who say “it’s not that bad.”

  9. I can remember when Democrats used to squeal, “Don’t shoot the messenger!” Now look at who is blaming “Fox News” or any other media they disagree with.

    Sorry clowns, Fox News hasn’t driven the once magnificent city of San Francisco into an open, crime-infested, sewer.

    That’s all Democrats…

  10. This was never a political issue. Most of American rif raff mental illness evolves from early life-just how they were raised as kids by their parents/guardians, their friendships, social lifestyle, and how it may affect their own personal will that come along with their life choices. If America should succeed as a decent society, it must start with every American taking better responsibility and care for their kids and even through early adult-hood. Give them the best chance at making better life choices. America has enough resources to make it happen but the parents/guardians need to put down the crack-pipe and whiskey bottle and take damn charge! Maybe use points/miles and take them on a trip to a country like Japan that can show them how a decent clean society with respect can bring joy and so much less stress. Politics and climate change is already bad enough- please raise your kids better and keep them off the streets!

  11. This location is squarely within the Financial District, and does not share the same characteristics as the Tenderloin, at all. How FiDi is doing compared to pre-pandemic is another matter, but it is not the ghetto.

  12. Latest available crime statistics. “The twenty cities with the highest violent crime rates (number of incidents per 100,000 people) are:
    St. Louis, MO (2,082)
    Detroit, MI (2,057)
    Baltimore, MD (2,027)
    Memphis, TN (2,003)
    Little Rock, AR (1,634)
    Milwaukee, WI (1,597)
    Rockford, IL (1,588)
    Cleveland, OH (1,557)
    Stockton, CA (1,415)
    Albuquerque, NM (1,369)”
    A majority Republican cities, and San Francisco not even in the top 25 — so let’s get serious. The actual Embarcadero part of San Francisco, running basically from Fisherman’s Wharf around to the new University of California “city” of China Basin is great for walking, exploring, best weather in the City, urban condos and gangbuster views galore. Other parts of the City, yes, do have problems, but considering that San Francisco is a dense rather small peninsula, it’s doing pretty well under the circumstances post-2020.

  13. Next to go could be st regis sf and even ritz carlton. Paving the way for no more luxury points hotels in that city!

    And this article what a contrast to Ben’s OMAAT, which has plenty of leftist defenders saying situation is “not bad”!

  14. So the Democrats have ruined the city so much that median is 50% higher than the US average, life expectancy is 6 years higher than average for the US, and it’s population is one of the highest educated in the nation.

    Apparently for Republicans that’s a hell scape.

  15. Sorry, @Arne Werchick… The Federal Crime Reporting Database is in the middle of switching to a new system, and the data is inaccurate at present. There was a far more damning article on this specifically discussing San Francisco and Deep Blue Metro Areas, but since I know people are going to argue about the source, I’ll post one from the Wall Street Journal:

  16. @Uncle Jeff: Are you just ignorant or are you willfully making things up?
    “This stuff is happening in soft on crime Texas with a felony theft threshold more than double California’s. Texas allows $2,500 in theft before it’s a felony, more than double California’s strict $950.”
    You go to jail for up to 180 days for a misdemeanor $100 theft in Texas. In SFO you walk.,third%20or%20subsequent%20theft%20offense

  17. In just about every other industry, the story would be that some VCs leverage a huge loan to buy a property at inflated rates, gut the assets and let the corp go bankrupt when their best-case gamble doesn’t pay off, thanks to the pandemic and the crash in business travel.
    But here it’s the SF hellscape?

  18. @L3 – the fact is: Texas is #5 in homeless in the USA.

    DeSantis in Florida just passed a law that the homes can’t sleep on the streets.

    If it wasn’t a problem… why would he need to pass that law?

    Maybe they can float and sleep.

    Like I said: your two shining examples… aren’t.

  19. No Jimmie Loovejoy, but this is…

    That’s your city in all its glory.

    Sure, San Francisco is a split-tier economy where rich, techie Democrats and their political pals live in spendor behind walls and gates. But so many others live life as shown in this photo (and so many others).

    This accounts for the skewed and criminally misleading stats.

    But who are you going to believe… your lyin’ eyes?

    The gilded class living in penthouses while the drugged masses fight for scraps.

    I love watching desperate Democrats insisting that the City has become anything but a catastrophic failure Democrats want to bring to the rest of America.

    It’s The Hunger Games… Biden/Newsome/Pelosi style.

  20. @docntx – bull$shirt.

    “The Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 (MHSA) was United States legislation signed by President Jimmy Carter which provided grants to community mental health centers. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan, who had made major efforts during his Governorship to reduce funding and enlistment for California mental institutions, pushed a political effort through the Democratically controlled House of Representatives and a Republican controlled Senate to repeal most of MHSA. The MHSA was considered landmark legislation in mental health care policy.”

  21. 1. The Tenderloin isn’t downtown SF
    2. That TikTok exaggerates the problem by showing it at its worst.
    3. It is indeed true the Tenderloin is not a pleasant place to walk through, especially at night.
    4. It is still a relatively crowded area and is less dangerous than it looks. It is not the same as the most dangerous areas of south side Chicago, for example, even if it feels as bad or worse.
    5. It is indeed true that downtown DF – the actual downtown, not the Tenderloin – is suffering but that’s mostly downstream of the same land use regulations that have generally made SF suffer.
    6. To the extent there is a crime problem, it’s a joint problem between liberal politicians not believing in enforcement and conservative police officers not doing the enforcement (and no, the former does not excuse the latter).

    Not a great article.

  22. San Francisco values. How’s that defund the police working?

    I’ve been to San Francisco probably 50 times. Never again, unless things change dramatically.

  23. @L3 What are you talking about? California misdemeanor theft is also up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

    Felony theft is where Texas goes real lax. The felony theft threshold in Texas is $2,500. Literally the most lenient in the country, tied with Wisconsin and more than double California’s $950 (among the strictest top 10 in the country):

    And up until recently, Dallas openly promised not to prosecute thefts under $750:

    And they had 18,000 car thefts last year alone:

    And Dallas has among the highest retail theft rates in the country:

    Not to mention the homelessness issue:

    Pretty ridiculous track record for a Republican run city.

    I guess there’s red state hellscapes too, huh?

  24. @Uncle Jeff : When I told an attorney about your absurd claims this evening he put it best: The law is much more complicated than you think.

    So stop pretending to be an attorney. Go back to that sanitation job where you excelled.

  25. Any comparison of crime rates between jurisdictions is just mental masterbation. The most crime-ridden cities tend to have artificially low rates because no one bothers to report anything because they know the cops won’t show up for anything short of murder, whereas in low-crime suburbs the cops get called about jaywalker.

    @Zebraitis: Whoever wrote that has probably never been near Dallas — the geography is all wrong. BTW, I’m looking out my window at downtown, I-45 and I-30. Also, when you say “Texas is #5 in homeless in the USA” keep in mind that we’re #2 in population.

  26. I live in the Bay Area and go into the city all the time. Yes it’s changed but I have yet to have my car broken into or be accosted by a homeless drug addict. The city still has quite a bit of charm.

    That said things need to change, but they aren’t the changes people think. The high cost of living and wfh decimated the city. Without people there to clean up, things deteriorate and it becomes a downward spiral – the broken window theory.

    More police, etc is a bandaid. Make the city more friendly to business, make it easier to build housing, and you’ll have people come back in droves. Crime with them naturally go down and homeless will move elsewhere.

  27. @L3 it is complicated. But there are also constraints which are indisputable.

    You can steal a $1,200 TV in California, go back and steal a $1,200 laptop, get caught with both and get two (2) felonies.

    In Texas, even if they aggregated the two thefts, they wouldn’t hit the $2,500 felony theft threshold, so mos they can hit you with is two (2) misdemeanors.

    Talk about soft on crime.

  28. @Uncle Jeff : Read the link I sent you before sending any more replies. You are arguing from a position of total ignorance and therefore sounding stupid.

  29. A major problem for downtown SF is its accessibility from the Peninsula. Caltrain is slow, the station in SF is a useless part of the city, and there is no good way to get from the Caltrain station the financial district.

    It shouldn’t take more than an hour to get from San Mateo to downtown SF, but that is how long it takes.

    Driving is a bad option due to traffic and the exorbitant cost for parking.

    It always surprised me that in an area as concerned with environment as the Bay Area is, the public transportation is so old and, for those folks living on the Peninsula, essentially useless.

    Meanwhile, on the East Coast, you. Can get from the near western suburbs of Philadelphia to midtown Manhattan in less than two hours.

  30. @Arne Werchick

    What do those cities have in common? LARGE black/illegal populations. THAT’S where the crime comes from.

  31. The location of the hotel is in the Financial District of SF. It is nowhere near the Tenderloin. Crime in SF is actually down dramatically. The value of downtown buildings, including hotels, dropped significantly since the pandemic. However when a hotel building, like this one bought at the height of the market in 2019, goes back to the bank, the hotel continues to operate. It just means the bank loan exceeds the current value of the building. The hotel brand and management are separate from who owns the title to the building. The area around this hotel is actually pleasant and safe.

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