Mayor London Breed Announces Investments in San Francisco's Downtown and Economic Recovery
Mayor Breed’s Downtown Recovery Plan includes a series of performances and events, downtown community ambassadors, and improvements to Hallidie Plaza, to beautify and reactivate key public spaces throughout Downtown and Union Square and welcome the return of downtown employees and visitors
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced a series of new investments to support Downtown San Francisco and the city’s economic recovery. Mayor Breed’s Downtown Recovery Plan seeks to attract workers and visitors back to the city’s downtown area, thereby advancing the city’s broader economic vitality and recovery. As San Francisco approaches full reopening, the Mayor plans to invest in activations and community ambassadors to make Downtown and Union Square feel welcoming, engaging, and open for business. This Plan complements the Mayor’s recently announced Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan.
“A vibrant, thriving, and healthy Downtown is essential to San Francisco’s recovery. Our downtown is a core part of our city,” said Mayor Breed. “As we continue reopening and moving forward on our recovery, we need to make investments now to ensure our downtown area is welcoming, clean, and attractive, so that people want to come back and spend time in the area.”
As businesses reopen and workers return over the summer, and as more people begin to visit San Francisco, Mayor Breed is proposing the Downtown Recovery Plan to support their return. The Downtown Recovery Plan includes an expansion of the number of ambassadors in the downtown and Union Square areas; a series of events and activations throughout Downtown, at the site of the temporary Transbay Terminal, and along the waterfront; and improvements at Hallidie Plaza, the entrance to the Powell Street BART Station and site of the Cable Car turnaround.
The Mayor is proposing to support these programs with $9.5 million in funding in her proposed City budget. The Mayor’s proposed two-year budget will be introduced on June 1, 2021. If approved in the budget, Ambassadors could be on the street by late summer. Smaller events and performances are planned to begin in July. The Transbay and Port activations are already moving forward and slated to begin this summer.
These initiatives go hand-in-hand with Mayor Breed’s efforts to support businesses in San Francisco and enliven commercial corridors throughout the city with the Shared Spaces program and the Small Business Recovery Act. Mayor Breed has introduced legislation to make the Shared Spaces program permanent beyond the pandemic and is advancing the Small Business Recovery Act to make it easier for small businesses to recover, open, and operate in San Francisco. These efforts are especially important for San Francisco’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as they will help existing businesses succeed and attract new commercial activities to neighborhoods throughout the city.
Downtown Recovery Plan
The Mayor is proposing to invest $7.5 million to expand the presence of Community Ambassadors in Downtown transit hubs and key tourist destinations. Community Ambassadors will provide a consistently welcoming atmosphere for returning office workers, residents, and tourists in the downtown area and support the reopening of storefront businesses. They will engage with commuters and visitors to provide hospitality and wayfinding services, engage with people who may be in distress to address safety issues and access appropriate City services, and will monitor and maintain the appearance and cleanliness of sidewalks and public spaces, calling in issues to City departments as needed.
Starting in late summer, approximately 50 Community Ambassadors will be stationed at downtown transit hubs and tourist destinations in the Union Square, Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown neighborhoods. The Community Ambassador program builds on the success, augments the resources of, and will coordinate with similar programs created by area Community Benefit Districts.
Events and Performances
Mayor Breed is committed to supporting the arts and creating vibrant, cultural opportunities that allow residents and visitors to reconnect with public spaces. As part of the Downtown Recovery Plan, the Mayor is proposing $1 million to create “SFWednesdays,” an ongoing series of activations in various downtown locations, starting in July. This will include a series of open-air events ranging from small lunch-time events to larger programs in Downtown’s iconic plazas. In creating these performances and activities, San Francisco will reinvigorate downtown public spaces, employ local artists and arts organizations, and support downtown small businesses by encouraging the return of people to our downtown area.
The City is working with the local arts community to develop activations that reflect and celebrate the unique and diverse cultural make-up of San Francisco. This series of events will take place on at least 10 Wednesdays between July and October. The two-hour events will take place at transit hubs, public plazas, and pedestrian streets and alleyways between 12:00pm-6:00pm. More information will be added online: sfwednesdays.com
San Francisco will also soon launch a range of programs at the former temporary Transbay Terminal site with a series of events and activities for people in the neighborhood and visitors. OCII’s Commission is scheduled to hear the recommended activation proposal and confirm the operator of this activation on June 1 and, if approved, the programs on this site would begin in July 2021.
The Port of San Francisco is organizing a series of “Pop-up Parks” in parks and public spaces along San Francisco’s waterfront. Events and activities are expected to begin in August 2021.
Hallidie Plaza Improvements
Mayor Breed is also proposing $1 million in her proposed budget to support beautification and other improvements to Hallidie Plaza, which is the gateway to Union Square at the Powell Street BART station. These improvements will include cleaning, installation of plants and greenery and colorful furniture, as well as increased food and beverage options for visitors and commuters who are disembarking from BART and the Cable Car.
Support for the Downtown Recovery Plan
Kate Sofis, Director, Office of Economic and Workforce Development
“Like people across the country, San Franciscans are ready to get out of the house and back to the bustle of the City. Union Square retailers and Downtown companies draw shoppers, tourists and workers who in turn support our city’s world-renowned hospitality industry from diverse local restaurants to bars and nightlife venues to our museums and family entertainment establishments. These areas are culturally iconic and economically essential parts of San Francisco and we’re excited to welcome everyone back to them.”
Ralph Remington, Director of Cultural Affairs, San Francisco Arts Commission
“By jump starting cultural activities downtown, the City is signaling to our San Francisco and Greater Bay Area residents, We Are Open and We Welcome You Back! The artists and performances that will enliven these downtown plazas beautifully reflect our city’s racial equity values; they will bring vitality and life back to our streets, and help everyone remember why San Francisco is so special. We champion and celebrate the BIPOC artists that make us a world-class destination. In addition to awakening the soul after this year-long slumber of sorts, and re-engaging with our shared humanity, these arts programs will also increase the economic activity downtown, which the city also needs.”
Karin Flood, Executive Director, Union Square Business Improvement District
“San Francisco and Union Square are resilient, and our businesses are eager to welcome back residents, visitors and workers. We are pleased that the Mayor has heard the recommendations of our own Union Square Economic Recovery Task Force, which called for more events and activations in the public realm. These additional City investments, especially in Union Square Park and in Hallidie Plaza – the gateway to our district – are key to our economic recovery. We support Mayor London Breed’s budget request for more “eyes and ears” on the street helping to ensure that San Francisco lives up to its promise as a vibrant world-class city.”
Rodney Fong, CEO, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
“Our city’s economy depends on the vibrancy of our downtown core. San Francisco downtown businesses bring in hundreds of thousands of local jobs, commuters, and visitors who are essential to the success of our small businesses. The Mayor’s budget proposal allows us to embrace this moment and invest in our city’s future.”
Kevin Carrol, President and CEO, Hotel Council
“San Francisco’s arts and cultural scene are one of the reasons people visit San Francisco. This summer, whether visitors come from in-state, out-of-state or outside the country, San Francisco will be ready to welcome them. This #SFWednesdays initiative highlighting local artists is just the ticket to enliven our public spaces.”
Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO, San Francisco Travel Association
“We have an opportunity to make visitors feel safe and welcome as we begin to bring them back and show them all that our beautiful city has to offer. Tourism is San Francisco’s number one economy, fueling tens of thousands of jobs and supporting our small businesses. This focused investment on the downtown core will reap huge benefits for the city at large.”
Peter Quartaroli, Managing Partner, Sam’s Grill
“Sam’s Grill has been in San Francisco since 1867 and has weathered through thick and thin. We are excited for the efforts that the city has planned to revitalize downtown. We’re happy to invite one and all to come enjoy downtown San Francisco and stop by Sam’s. We are made for this!”
Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan
The Downtown Recovery Plan complements Mayor Breed’s recently announced efforts to create a safer and more welcoming environment in the Mid-Market area. The Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan includes both a visible increase in police presence to deter criminal activity and a community ambassador program to connect people in need with services, and provide a welcoming presence for residents, workers, visitors, and businesses. Community-based safety ambassadors will be stationed on every block of the area from Powell Station (5th Street) to 8th Street on Market Street and adjacent areas just south of Market Street, UN Plaza, and the Tenderloin blocks bordered by Larkin Street and Eddy Street.