San Francisco, CA – Mayor London N. Breed today provided a three-month update on the Roadmap to Downtown San Francisco’s Future, which is the City’s plan to transform Downtown into a stronger, resilient, economic and global destination.
Mayor Breed set out her vision for a revitalized Downtown at her State of the City address earlier this year on February 9th when she announced the launch of the Roadmap, along with five key priorities:
- An economically diverse and resilient job engine
- A welcoming clean and safe environment
- A dynamic destination active at all hours, every day
- A world class transportation experience
- An equitable economy that supports full participation by all
In the Roadmap’s first three months, the City has reached major milestones that will improve the future of Downtown and San Francisco as a whole, while attracting tourists, workers, and businesses to this important economic corridor.
“I am proud of the aggressive first steps we’ve taken to support Downtown, but we have a lot more work to do,” said Mayor London Breed. “Reimagining Downtown is going to require long and hard work, and it’s going to require us to have the vision to set our future. It’s in our DNA as San Franciscans to think bigger always and dream of the possibilities of what our City can be, and that’s what the Roadmap is all about.”
In May 2023, the key quarterly milestones for the Roadmap to Downtown San Francisco’s Future include:
Strategy 1: Ensure Downtown is clean, safe, and inviting with smart and strategic investments that increase public safety and improve street conditions in a coordinated, efficient, and effective manner.
- Passed legislation providing $25 million for police overtime to maintain an adequate level of public safety response and approving a new police contract to improve officer attraction and retention.
- Extended contracts for Mid-Market Safety Ambassadors to provide non-police responses to urgent street conditions and Downtown Welcome Ambassadors to help visitors throughout the Financial District, Union Square, and the waterfront.
- Announced the Home by the Bay Plan to reduce unsheltered homelessness by half over the next five years.
“Safe and Clean streets are of the utmost importance when looking at the future of Downtown,” said Wade Rose, President of Advance SF. “This is only the beginning, but we applaud Mayor Breed and City Hall for focusing on this issue and for their execution of initiatives that aim to make Downtown a welcoming neighborhood for all.”
Strategy 2: Attract and retain a diverse range of industries and employers by identifying and recruiting strategic sectors that support San Francisco’s resilience.
- Introduced new tax policy legislation to pause previously scheduled business tax increases for struggling businesses and create an Office Attraction Tax Credit for new office-based businesses through 2028.
- Initiated a business tax reform process to make the City’s tax structure more resilient and attractive.
“I share Mayor Breed's vision that we must attract and retain a diverse range of businesses and industries to revitalize our downtown,” said Rodney Fong, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “Today's update to the Roadmap for Downtown San Francisco's Future is another step towards a safer, cleaner, and more vibrant downtown where residents, visitors, and workers all want to spend time."
Strategy 3: Facilitate new uses and flexibility in buildings by maximizing the ability to update and adapt office buildings to meet the needs of new interested tenants.
- Introduced Downtown zoning legislation to allow new uses and activities, support new businesses in Union Square, and create an Adaptive Reuse Program for the conversion of underutilized office buildings to housing. This legislation is actively underway and will be heard by the Board of Supervisors in June.
“The Mayor's Downtown Roadmap presents a comprehensive vision for the future of downtown, transforming it from a single-use workplace to a vibrant, 24/7, mixed-use district where people from all walks of life feel they belong,” said Sujata Srivastava, San Francisco Director, SPUR. “Office-to-residential conversion projects activate vacant downtown buildings and create much-needed workforce housing in San Francisco. The legislation introduced by the Mayor and President Peskin will remove regulatory hurdles to adapt vacant office spaces into housing and facilitated the adaptation of downtown buildings into diverse businesses. SPUR looks forward to working in partnership with the City to implement additional policies that foster a more resilient and diverse downtown.”
Strategy 4: Make it easier to start and grow a business by creating transparency, streamlining processes, and building out systems to support new businesses opening in San Francisco.
- Launched the Vacant to Vibrant program to match aspiring entrepreneurs and artists with vacant ground floor space Downtown, star-up grants, and permitting assistance.
- Announced legislation to simplify small business permitting by removing barriers and allowing more flexibility.
“I started my jewelry business as a way to share my culture with others, said Superna Grover, owner of local small business, Suvarn Jewels. “The programs the City has put forward now are incredibly helpful for small businesses like mine – the Bhangra and Beats Night Market activation downtown where we were able to have a booth recently as well as the Vacant to Vibrant Pop-Up Small Business program that we’ve applied to, provide much needed exposure for us. We’re so grateful for all of these programs and the policy reforms the Mayor has made around permitting. It’s a great time to start a business in San Francisco!”
Strategy 5: Grow and prepare our workforce by preparing San Franciscans for growing industry sectors, as well as new ways to unlock housing production and ensure the city has adequate housing to meet the demands of a growing labor force.
- Implementing the Mayor’s Housing for All plan by creating new infrastructure financing tools, announcing site permit process reforms, and introducing comprehensive housing streamlining legislation.
- Expanding outreach to grow our workforce with hospitality sector, small business, and City job fairs.
“In the last three months, we have seen Mayor Breed and her team investing in public safety, working with us to recruit and expand our workforce, and leaning into our city’s strengths as an international leader on arts and culture through activations,” said Alex Bastian, President and CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. “These activations include the Yerba Buena Art & Makers Market, Union Square in Bloom, Bhangra & Beats Night Market in the Financial District, and the Our Place in the Park AAPI film festival in SOMA. We need to work together to support these actions, as well as other forthcoming investments, that our Mayor is making on behalf of our city.”
Strategy 6: Transform Downtown into a leading arts, culture, and nightlife destination by creating an entertainment zone and seeding new businesses, events, activities, and experiences for a more vibrant Downtown.
- Supporting activations and events including the Yerba Buena Art & Makers Market, Union Square in Bloom, Bhangra & Beats Night Market in the Financial District and the Our Place in the Park AAPI film festival in SOMA.
“Downtown is the heart of the city and where most visitors choose to stay,” said Joe D’Allesandro, President and CEO of SF Travel. “New reoccurring activations like the Bhangra & Beats Night Market and Yerba Buena Art & Makers Market add incredible vibrancy to Downtown and make San Francisco an even more compelling destination. These types of events, along with annual ones such as the Pride Parade march down Market Street, showcase what makes San Francisco so exciting—its diversity, innovative spirit and positive energy—and help attract visitors from across the globe.”
Strategy 7: Enhance public spaces to showcase Downtown by investing in enhancing and expanding plazas, alleyways, and other public space to improve people’s experience of Downtown.
- Funding the Powell Street Promenade to refresh a key gateway to Union Square and help fill retail vacancies.
- Completed the transition of the emergency Shared Spaces program to a permanent tool for street activation.
“Union Square stands as our crown jewel, a beacon of pride for all San Franciscans and residents of the Bay Area,” said Marisa Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Union Square Alliance. “It is where we gather to work, celebrate life's moments, and find inspiration. This significant investment by Mayor Breed and Board President Peskin to transform Powell Street will help make an unforgettable first impression for many visitors that sets the tone for the entire city. By attracting businesses and re-establishing a vibrant atmosphere, we lay the foundation for a prosperous future.”
Strategy 8: Invest in transportation connections to maintain access to Downtown by every mode of transportation available while continuing to improve the reliability, efficiency, and quality of service.
- Launched the 1X California Express pilot connecting the Outer Richmond to the Financial District.
- Completed protected bike lanes on Battery and Sansome between Market and Broadway.
“Clean, reliable, and safe transit options are an absolute necessity when it comes to bringing folks back into our cities centers and keeping them thriving,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO and President of Bay Area Council. “For folks to return to San Francisco’s offices, shops, restaurants and more, they must be as accessible as possible. We applaud the Mayor on her work to improve transit to downtown San Francisco and are excited for the investment to come.”
Strategy 9: Tell our story through proactive marketing to emphasize our strengths and reclaim our brand.
- Partnered with SF Travel to launch a national Always San Francisco campaign in May to remind visitors of our unique allure.
- Released the Make Your Future San Francisco campaign to invite entrepreneurs and innovators Downtown.
“As the Executive Director of OEWD which is focused on the Roadmap to Downtown San Francisco’s Future, I’m thrilled to see the City making such great progress in just three months,” said Kate Sofis, Executive Director of the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The Mayor has set forward a powerful agenda that will bring Downtown, our business community, the arts, and innovation roaring back here in San Francisco -- and we’re just getting started.”
To learn more about Mayor Breed’s vision for San Francisco’s Downtown future, please visit sf.gov/downtownroadmap.