SF store has been blasted for 24/7 classical music to deter homeless

Don’t come Bach! San Francisco grocery store blasts classical music 24/7 to deter homeless loiterers but leaves nearby residents angered with sleepless nights

  • The music has been blaring from speakers on a mobile surveillance unit from LiveView Technologies parked in the lot at the Safeway in Japantown
  • A number of locals have called the police and 311 about the noise with many complaining that the music is ‘disturbing’, ‘super loud’ and even ‘torturous’
  • The move comes as homelessness reaches a nearly 20-year high in San Francisco and businesses abandon the city due to crime levels

A San Francisco grocery store has been blasted for playing loud classical music – all hours of the day and night – as a way to deter homeless people from the area.

The music has been blaring from speakers on a mobile surveillance unit from LiveView Technologies parked in the lot at the Safeway at 1335 Webster Street in the eclectic neighborhood of Japantown for the past week.

A number of nearby residents have raged against the move and called police, 311, the district and the store itself,  to complain that the music is ‘super loud’, ‘disturbing,’ and even ‘torturous’ despite the city battling spiraling crime levels. 

The tunes have resulted in a flood of complaints on NextDoor with locals who live in the apartment nearby claiming they can’t open their windows or watch television due to the high noise level.  

It is unclear if the music is still cranking or has just been turned down, but by Tuesday afternoon some have reported the sound of ‘silence.’

The music has been blaring from speakers on a mobile surveillance unit from LiveView Technologies parked in the lot at the Safeway at 1335 Webster Street in the eclectic neighborhood of Japantown for the past week.

The classical music is being blasted to deter homeless people from the area (pictured are tents along Embarcadero Street, San Francisco)

The homeless have set up camps on the streets of San Francisco 

On Sunday, a woman who lives in front of Safeway in Japantown, wrote her concerns on the NextDoor platform: ‘This camera plays music sometimes, but last night, it played music super loud the whole night.

‘My apartment window is facing the parking lot, and it was extremely disturbing to have this music the whole night. Does anyone know what can I do or how can I report this? I just want the music off, at least during the night!’

Though other San Franicsco Safeway locations have LVT units in their parking lots, the Webster location appears to be the only site that turned up the volume on the security systems optional audio feature, SFGate reported.

The solar-powered unit that sits in a single parking space in the parking lot also features lights, thermal imaging and loudspeakers intended to ‘decrease retail theft’ and ‘increase safety,’ according to the company’s website. 

Safeway appeared to take it to the next level going beyond the ‘temporary’ alerts suggested by LVT, and following other homeless noise disturbance measures implemented by neighboring businesses, including, 7-Eleven and Burger King.

A resident, who reportedly reached out to Safeway management said ‘they were pretty adamant that they had no idea this was playing 24 hours a day.’

District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston also got involved after complaints came into his office about concerns about the volume and hours of the music.

‘Community members have asked for Safeway to take a more proactive role in promoting safety in the parking lot, but that must be done in a way that is respectful of all neighbors and the community,’ Preston said. 

By Tuesday afternoon, it appears that that music had ceased or the volume has been turned way down, according to some locals.

‘Glad to hear they turned it down. I could hear it all the way up on Laguna at Geary the other night. Extremely annoying!,’ one person wrote. 

One of the many homeless encampments spread across downtown San Francisco

Homeless tents set up a on a street in San Francisco. Businesses are threatening to stop paying taxes until they’re removed

Safeway did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

The idea playing classical music as a crime deterrent has been a tactic used since the mid-1980s’.

The idea is believed to have started by a 7-Eleven in Canada after a group of psychologists were brainstorming novel approaches to combat loitering. 

The idea was then carried out in different cities across the globe.

‘One of the ideas [from the brainstorming session] was to play easy listening or classical music in the parking lot,’ a 7-Eleven representative is quoted in Lily E Hirsch’s book, ‘Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment,’ as per the 2018 article. 

‘The thinking was this kind of music is not popular with teens and may discourage them from ‘hanging out’ at the store.’

San Francisco has in recent months seen a worrying uptick in murders and robberies  

‘They do this at my 7/11 in Oakland and it is super loud and provides an eerie dystopian vibe,’ one person wrote. 

Homelessness is at a nearly 20 year high in San Francisco and some local businesses have threatened to stop paying taxes unless the city cleans up the colonies of tents and tarps that have grown along neighborhood streets.

Homicides in the city are now up 5 percent from the same time last year, while robberies are up more than 16 percent.

Motor vehicle thefts and arson cases are also up 5.7 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

At the same time, San Francisco saw a staggering 41 percent surge in the number of drug-related deaths in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time last year, as fentanyl ravaged the city’s homeless population.

Since the start of the COVID pandemic, a recent report showed 95 retailers in downtown San Francisco have closed, a decline of more than 50 percent.

Out of 203 retailers open in 2019 in the city’s Union Square area, just 107 are still operating, a drop of 47 percent in just a few pandemic-ravaged years.

Park Hotels and Resorts announced on Monday that it stopped making payments on its $725 million loan due in November for the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 — the largest and fourth-largest hotels in the city, respectively. 

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