Cars drive by the Westfield San Francisco Centre on April 13, 2022.

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CNN  — 

Another big American retailer announced it was pulling out of downtown San Francisco.

Nordstrom blamed flagging foot traffic and the “dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market” when it announced it would not renew the lease on its massive retail location as well as its discount outlet in the heart of the city.

Numerous other brands have also said they will pull out of the area. In April, Whole Foods temporarily shut a flagship store that opened just last year, citing worker safety.

What’s happening in San Francisco has become a key storyline in a larger national narrative about crime and perceptions of crime.

It’s a storyline that CNN reporter Kyung Lah experienced back in March when she and a crew went to San Francisco to report on how crime has scrambled the city’s politics. Last November, voters in the majority-Asian American Sunset District replaced a progressive Chinese American incumbent for supervisor with a moderate White man, Joel Engardio.

“San Francisco, the most liberal place in America, is saying enough. We want safe streets. We want good schools,” Engardio told Lah during an interview at City Hall. “That should tell anyone – pay attention.”

Proving the point, the window of the car rented by Lah and her crew was being smashed and their bags grabbed as she conducted that interview. It happened in about four seconds, Lah said, and despite the fact that the CNN crew had hired professional security to watch their car. Watch her report.

Lah told me officers from the San Francisco Police Department ultimately recovered her emptied bags and passport.

For a better sense of what exactly is going on in one of the world’s great cities, I talked to Joe Eskenazi, managing editor and columnist for Mission Local, an independent, nonprofit news site. Full disclosure: Joe and I went to college together in the Bay Area and were colleagues at The Daily Californian. Excerpts of our conversation are below.

What’s happening in San Francisco?