California has the highest number of net domestic outmigration in the United States - with its residents fleeing in order to escape progressive agendas bringing about economic and social deterioration.
The Telegraph has spoken to two Americans living in California who have detailed their own experience of the decline, what they deem to be the most damaging effects and policies and what needs to change.
Read on to explore what they had to say:
‘Elected officials are attempting to get purely Democratic votes’
Telegraph reader Sherrie Johnson lives in Campbell, California. She describes how she has been a Democrat all her life, yet she has recently found herself “starting to get Republican leanings because of the overly progressive policies” in California.
“We have a situation where several counties are at a point where elected officials are attempting to get purely Democratic votes.”
She describes how within the last eight years, “the pendulum swings have swung wholly to one direction”, which has led to “criminals having more and more rights”.
“I recently had to go to an Apple store and I asked the sales associate what happens if someone were to come in here and wipe you out? He said - we just step away. We tell all the customers to step away and let them do it.”
Sherrie argues that she would simply like criminals prosecuted “properly” to the point where “there is a detriment to committing that crime again”.
“I realise there is overcrowding in jails and prisons, and I realise it is not as simple as saying ‘arrest this person’. I understand that. But I think over the years we have done things that have slowly pushed it to a point where it is impossible to deal with it.”
So what can be done? Sherrie claims that a big step in the right direction would be a “more adequately funded police force”.
“We have many people who are shouting ‘defund the police’ when I really think we need to beef it up. But, we need to do this with the correct police officers - because we have some bad seeds.
“As a gun-happy country, unfortunately, we do need an adequate police force. And they need to be visually there, so that it is detrimental to criminals. They have to know the police are there, or will show up. They need to know they will be arrested and prosecuted. But we don’t currently have that, because we don’t have enough police officers.
“I get very worried, because the police are already stretched so thin. Many of them can’t even begin to investigate petty crime. There is just too much of it and too few of them. And petty crimes lead to more crimes.”
‘No one needs to be handed five million dollars’
Another of the progressive policies that Sherrie really struggles with is the concept of reparation payments.
She describes how she had to stop reading the San Francisco recommendation report that the reparations committee put out, as she “almost wanted to throw up”.
“Absolutely in no way shape or form should anyone be given five million dollars. This is a cash grab. A request to be set up to freeload for the rest of your life,” she adds.
The report Sherrie is referring to is the San Francisco Reparations Plan 2023, submitted by the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee. Within the report, there is a section titled “Economic empowerment recommendations”, which describes how “a one-time lump of $5 million dollars” would become “immediately available” to those who qualify.
This money, it is argued in the report, would “compensate the affected population for the decades of harm experienced” and “redress the economic and opportunity losses that Black San Franciscans have endured, collectively, as the result of both intentional decisions and unintended harms perpetuated by City policy”.
Sherrie, who is of African-American descent herself, said that “even if I were checking all the boxes to get this five million dollars, and could prove 100 per cent that I ‘deserve’ it I would never, ever accept it.”
“Talk about setting yourself up to be so despised and so hated! And it’s not like you can hide the fact that you’re black. How many people do you think are going to be satisfied with the fact that I was given five million dollars?
“It would cause a wider divide, rather than fix anything in the first place. What people need are opportunities to better themselves. No one needs to be handed five million dollars.”
She goes on to suggest what should be done instead: “Every single bit of reparation funding should go to strengthening the black community. Set up reparation funds for educational purposes, starting small businesses, giving back to the community, helping out families and creating strong African-American communities in cities.
“You can’t really give an individual a whole load of money and let all the other stuff fall apart. That doesn’t help them progress.
“Giving people the ability to go to college when they want those higher education degrees, and not take out student loans, that would be fantastic. And I don’t think you would get a lot of people who would be against someone wanting to get a higher education.
“Educate the people, and they can have the opportunities to become successful.”
‘San Francisco is a societal tragedy’
Charlie March was born and raised in Menlo Park, which is about 25 miles south of San Francisco.
“My grandmother was born and raised in San Francisco in the Haight-Ashbury district, so we would take trips into San Francisco and we had a lot of family time there. We’d walk the streets, it was always a wonderful place to go,” he says.
Recalling some of his favourite places, Charlie says: “Golden Gate Park was quite wonderful. Japanese tea gardens - it’s a wonderful place. Ghirardelli Square. It was really cool, there was loads to do.”
“Overall, everyone kind of left you alone, it was well governed,” he adds.
Fast-forward to the present day, where Charlie now resides in Northwest San Jose with his wife, he no longer has “any intention of going there [San Francisco].”
In fact, he considers San Francisco “a personal and societal tragedy”.
Charlie explains how San Francisco has always been “a very liberal place. This whole Bay Area always has been.”
“The last Republican and more conservative mayor San Francisco had was in 1964. All of them coming after have been Democrats, but they’ve always been kind of like a Democrat your father or grandfather knew, so they were more liberal but they believed in a controlled society.”
But, according to Charlie, a certain shift occurred in the 1980s and 1990s: “The homeless situation was becoming more and more noticeable. They were just starting to become more aggressive.”
He adds: “Say, you’re up in the city and you pull up to a stop light. Someone will come around and they’ll have cups of urine and throw them on your windshield and then they would go, ‘pay me five bucks and I’ll clean your window’. That was like 20 or 30 years ago.”
Decades on, Charlie describes the increasingly worse situation: “Restaurants are pulling out because of the faecal matter on the streets. I was recently told a story about a homeless guy with his pants down in front of people eating in a restaurant.”
‘What’s happening in San Francisco is what is happening in Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, Seattle’
Charlie points out that it’s not just San Francisco that has a problem. “Where we live, the homeless are under overpasses like freeways or they just find places to camp out that’s kind of safe and they won’t be bothered. Downtown San Jose is the same to a minor extent. San Francisco is just 2.0. You go to the coast of Santa Cruz, you find a similar thing there. It’s everywhere.”
“What’s happening in San Francisco is what is happening in Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, Seattle. My son is an assistant manager in a supermarket up in Seattle and they have a homeless encampment across the street from the grocery store. This is a real nice area of Seattle and they’re shooting up doing drugs.
“You can see them shoot up from the store and they go in when the security isn’t there, when the security go on break or go home, they go into the supermarket and take what they want and leave. The staff are instructed not to interfere with them. You call the police, the police won’t come because it’s just so widespread. So, the stores are left to use their own security. How can a business survive that way?”
On the topic of police, Charlie is baffled how, “when all of this upheaval is going on, in a lot of these liberal cities there are these defund the police movements”. He adds: “Part of the insanity is that these people think the way to reduce crime is to reduce the police. They’re actually thinking that the less police you have, the less crime there is going to be. It’s insane.”
Charlie goes on to ask “why the free leaders” are not doing something about it. “Do they just want to overthrow our society and turn it into something else? None of it makes sense.”
When pondering whether the likes of San Francisco and surrounding areas can be saved, Charlie is left rather despondent.
“The Left controls the voting booth and the unions to ensure their power. All political, conservative uprisings have been put down and much of the Republican voting base has moved away.
“Civic leadership is completely mad. Businesses are in flight. Look, the area made Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, and Kamala Harris. Need I say more?”
What Charlie thinks it will take is “a change in mindset”. He says what he and like-minded people are dealing with are the types who believe “with more funding from Washington we could make this work, we could turn this around”.
Charlie disagrees: “We need a change in mindset, people who will come up with some new ideas and who have the leverage to turn this around. As of yet, there aren’t any. Everyone you talk to, we just shrug our shoulders. We make our own little enclaves like my wife and I have here. Our own little bubble.”
Charlie and his wife would move out of California if it wasn’t for their daughter’s family who live close by. “All my friends have left,” he says. “If my daughter’s family were to leave then we would definitely leave.”
“One more thing,” Charlie adds. “Did you hear Gavin Newsom is running for President? So the United States is going to become California if he gets in.”