Rising crime has led some to avoid walking or driving around whole neighbourhoods.
The question of what to do about drugs is especially controversial.
The city has opened a supervised drug-injection centre in United Nations Plaza, just down the road from City Hall, contravening federal and state law.
This has done nothing to change the open use and sale of drugs on the street, which Mr Boudin chose not to prioritise for prosecution.
When your correspondent walked around the Tenderloin district for an hour from 11am, she counted more than 20 drug-dealers, recognisable in a “uniform” of black clothes and hats, with grey or black backpacks.
Being noticed did not seem to worry them, and there’s a reason.
In 2021 Mr Boudin’s office managed only three convictions for drug-dealing, despite a record 711 overdose deaths the previous year.
His predecessor achieved 90 convictions for drug-dealing in 2018.
Supporters felt Mr Boudin was a scapegoat for the city’s problems of homelessness, addiction and crime, which have been stirred by covid-19 but preceded it.
Recalls should be reserved for booting someone out of office after they commit a specific crime, they said.
Yet Mr Boudin’s was the fifth recall election in California this year, including a successful vote against three school-board members who had refused to reopen schools while debating name changes for them, says Josh Spivak, an expert on recalls.
Some 60% of voters chose to give Mr Boudin the boot.
Asians, who account for more than a third of San Francisco’s population, were unhappy with his handling of several assaults.
Mr Boudin painted the recall as a partisan drive, but San Franciscans of all political persuasions supported it.
They will continue to argue over whether the city suffered due to his specific policies or plain incompetence.
(The answer is probably both.)
And the story may not be over.
Mr Boudin may try to run again for his old job in November.
The recall election has wider lessons.
First, it highlights the conflict within the Democratic Party that hampers functional government.
In San Francisco Democrats have unilateral control, but progressives are butting heads with moderates, trying to cast them as closet Republicans.
Recent redistricting conversations became “borderline violent”, says one observer.
Sheriffs had to be called in.
This reflects a degradation of discourse that is occurring not just between parties but within them.
Second, it shows that voters are cooling on progressive policies, after seeing real-world consequences.
There is pushback in other cities with progressive district attorneys, including Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Calls to “defund the police” have shifted to “refunding”.
“The problem is, many progressive policies don’t appear to be very effective,” says Jonathan Weber, editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Standard, a news site.
“I don’t think this is a blip,” Mr Weber predicts.
San Franciscans, known for their embrace of progressivism, may be turning towards moderation.