Nothing to do with Reagan..
..either as Governor or Prez.
Although you will hear a lot of people in Cal blame Reagan even though it was Governor Brown (père) who started shutting down the mental hospitals and clearing out the patients in the early 1960's. More than half emptied before Reagan became governor. But it was during the term of Governor Brown (fils) in the 1970's that the key piece of mentally ill "Patients Rights" laws was passed in California. I only heard the real story behind the law about two decades ago because a friend knew one of the prime movers behind the law quite well at the time. A complete raving loony from a very wealthy background who used his money and connections to play off the complete fiction of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and such like to further his own paranoid schemes to stay out of institutions. Those unfamiliar with how California politics has always worked maybe unfamiliar with the utterly bizarre stories like this one that are part and parcel of how business has always been done here.
Anyway. Last week I was on a bus when a schizophrenic woman who had obviously not been taking her meds started a disruption so serious the bus driver asked her to get off the bus. She refused. I knew that the bus driver was seriously limited in what he could do or say but I was nt so I firmly told her to get off the bus. Which she did. If this had happened in Portland or especially Seattle I would have stayed with the woman, called the city Mental Health services dept, and have them deal with her. Getting her the treatment she needed. In SF its a waste of time. Given her attitude she would have refused any sort of help from mental heath services personnel if they were called so it would have been just a wasted few hours for all concerned.
This is why I have come to utterly despise "activists" of all types over the years. I have seen far too often the utter deprivation and heart break caused by these attention seeking middle class narcissists who have utterly destroyed the City over the last few decades with their facile posturing political sloganeering. Those who quietly work in the background to try to alleviate the suffering of these poor benighted people have my immense respect, gratitude, and support. Utterly apolitical, deeply pragmatic, and with a real humanity towards those they are trying to help that is completely lacking in the "activists"
So many dozens of seriously mentally ill people have died in utter squalor on the streets of SF over the last few decades because of these "activists". Because every time any serious step is taken to change the law over the decades to help get these mentally ill people the treatment they need some "activists" group or other files a lawsuit that stops the reform. It was one such lawsuit back in the mid 1980's that first made me aware of this obscene situation.