Downtown San Francisco, Cleveland and Portland are the most deserted in the United States: study

The Democratic cities of San Francisco, Cleveland and Portland, Oregon have the most deserted downtown areas in the United States following the pandemic, which has driven out workers and tourists, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Institute for Government Studies at the University of California, Berkeley found that downtown San Francisco was only 31% active between March and May, compared to pre-war levels. pandemic.

This was followed by Cleveland, Ohio, with 36% downtown recovery and Portland, Oregon, with 41%. Notably, all three cities are majority Democrats.

The researchers used GPS location data from 18 million smartphones to track how often their users visited various cities in the United States and Canada, then compared that activity to 2019 levels.

Downtown Detroit and Chicago fare little better in terms of activity, with just 42% and 43%, respectively, followed by Indianapolis and Minneapolis with 44% each. Raleigh, North Carolina with 45%, and New Orleans and Oakland, California got 46%.

A new study has found downtown San Francisco to be the most deserted in the country as a result of the COVID pandemic.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
This graph from researchers at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley shows the ranking of city centers based on recovery rates.
This graph from researchers at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley shows the ranking of city centers based on recovery rates.
Institute of Government Studies

At the other end of the spectrum, the study found that downtown Salt Lake City, Utah had the most robust post-COVID recovery, with activity levels up 155% compared to 2019.

Downtowns in Bakersfield, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio also saw a buzz of activity, measured at 117% and 112%, respectively.

The list of top 10 busiest downtown areas also includes Fresno, California; Omaha, Nebraska; Baltimore; El Paso, TX; San Diego; Tampa, Florida; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

Downtown New York’s recovery ranked 14th in the study at 78% from 2019. The pandemic has caused many residents to flee the Big Apple, spooked by soaring COVID rates, rising skyrocketing crime and rampant homelessness.

Downtown Cleveland was only 36% active in spring 2022, compared to 2019.
Downtown Cleveland was only 36% active in spring 2022, compared to 2019.
USA TODAY Sports
Downtown Portland, Oregon was the third most deserted in the United States, according to smartphone GPS data.
Downtown Portland, Oregon was the third most deserted in the United States, according to smartphone GPS data.
Reuters

The study attributed slow recovery rates in cities like San Francisco – the capital of America’s tech industry – to remote working, business closures, loss of business travel and preference growing number of consumers shopping online.

At the same time, San Francisco is experiencing a crime epidemic, with assaults, robberies and rapes on the rise.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the tech hub in the heart of the Bay Area has become synonymous with homeless encampments and harrowing images of homeless people pulling drugs down the street.

Other progressive cities on the list, including Portland and Chicago, have also seen rising crime rates, according to the latest data from their respective police departments.

Downtown Salt Lake City was the busiest in the nation, with a 155% resumption rate.
Downtown Salt Lake City was the busiest in the nation, with a 155% resumption rate.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

But Berkley academics have suggested that the lack of activity in the worst-performing areas of downtown is most closely tied to economic factors, such as lower demand for downtown real estate due to the remote work.

The study’s authors warned that “to survive in the new era of remote working, city centers will need to diversify their economic activity and land uses.”

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