San Francisco

McDonald's No Longer Culpable In Haight & Stanyan Crime Issues

It's no secret that the area around Haight and Stanyan streets is a hotspot for criminal activity. The site is notorious as a center for drug dealing and sporadic violence, including, most recently, an attack with a skateboard that left a 17-year-old with life-threatening injuries.

While many of the incidents reported in the area—from stabbings to shootings to dog attacks—occur at Alvord Lake or in the Whole Foods parking lot, it's the McDonald's at the intersection that has consistently drawn the most neighborhood ire, as well as the attention of city law enforcement.

But while the fast-food eatery has taken its share of potshots from both groups, city officials say that as far as they're concerned, it's no longer part of the problem. 

Photo: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Not long ago, the McDonald's at 730 Stanyan St. was a magnet for criminal activity. From 2012 to 2015, the office of City Attorney Dennis Herrera reported that the Upper Haight McDonald's clocked 1,100 calls for service to the SFPD—far more than any other business in the area.

In just six months in 2015, police recovered more than 100 doses of LSD, over two pounds of marijuana, 88.5 grams of psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms), more than half of a pound of marijuana edibles, and hashish from drug dealers at the McDonald's. And disputes over drugs often fed into other incidents, including assault and battery, fights, dog attacks, and car burglaries. 

As a result, Herrera's office issued a cleanup order to the McDonald's in May 2015, calling the eatery a public nuisance.

By that October, the city had reached an agreement with the McDonald's franchisee to provide increased lights, security, and fencing, as well as 24-hour private security services that would "make reasonable efforts to remove people engaged in the use or possession of illegal drugs." The franchisee also agreed to pay the city $40,000 for the high policing costs the McDonald's incurred.

It's been a year and a half since the agreement was reached. How does the city feel about the McDonald's now? 

In a word: positively. Deputy City Attorney Megan Cesare-Eastman, who managed the McDonald's case, told us that as far as the city is concerned, the property at 730 Stanyan is clear. 

SFPD Park Station's Officer Al Wu confirmed that between last September and late February, zero calls have been reported from the Upper Haight McDonald's.

Alvord Lake continues to be a magnet for drug dealing and violence. | photo: amy stephenson/hoodline

But there's a new twist: Cesare-Eastman said that the franchise has changed hands in the last couple of months, and the new owner isn't legally bound by the agreement reached in 2015. 

"We're hoping that the new owner will continue some of the improvements that the old owner made," Cesare-Eastman said. She added that the SFPD and the City Attorney's office will be meeting with the new owners soon.

In the meantime, those with concerns about crime at Haight & Stanyan may have to take their grievances to the entity responsible for the remainder of the area—the city of San Francisco. 

Thanks to tipster Bill R.

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