Ensure Downtown is clean, safe, and inviting

February 9, 2023

Investing in a clean and safe downtown is essential to attracting new businesses as well as workers, visitors, and residents.


Downtown San Francisco is a world-class destination that offers a variety of amenities. By prioritizing investments in cleanliness and public safety, we are working to ensure everyone feels at ease while in our Downtown. This strategy supports a Downtown that successfully attracts widespread interest, while addressing some of our greatest challenges with a humane approach that is coordinated, efficient and effective.

The City has begun to advance a series of initiatives and will launch additional programs that support this strategy: 

  • Support businesses, residents, and visitors with an enhanced public safety presence.
  • Continue and grow Healthy Streets coordinated response programs that connect people experiencing homelessness, behavioral health challenges, and addiction with services while keeping streets and sidewalks safe for everyone.
  • Implement street vending regulations to discourage and disrupt the resale of stolen merchandise while supporting small entrepreneurs and keeping sidewalks accessible.
  • Provide a welcoming gateway to Downtown attractions through increased parking garage security at City garages.
  • Expand on the City’s partnership with Community Benefit Districts to keep sidewalks and plazas clean through the 311 Connected Worker App.
  • Continue to fund and expand targeted cleaning crews in key areas and hot spots.
  • Welcome transit riders and visitors Downtown with refurbished transit platforms and shelters.



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Enhanced public safety presence

One of Mayor Breed’s top budget investments is public safety, including police officer recruitment and retention. The City is committed to ensuring residents, workers and tourists feel safe in San Francisco by ramping up a public safety presence in priority locations while maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of our public safety approach.  

  • Like public safety agencies across the country, the San Francisco Police Department is facing record staffing shortages. As part of the Mayor’s budget, increased police recruitment and retention efforts are underway and more incentives are in development.
  • While rebuilding staffing in the long run, San Francisco has been relying on overtime to ensure police are providing critical levels of service. Mayor Breed will be introducing a $25 million dollar police staffing budget supplemental to continue to keep residents, workers, and businesses safe.  
  • The Police Department is hiring and deploying retired officers as on-the-ground Community Safety Ambassadors and Police Services Aides in order to deter criminal activity and respond to lower and mid-level calls for service, allowing sworn officers to respond to more serious offenses more quickly. To further support public safety, the Mayor’s Camera Access legislation passed in September 2022, giving police officers lawful access to privately-owned live video footage.
  • Taken together, these efforts allow the Police Department to rapidly deploy sworn personnel when and where it is warranted, to further criminal investigations into organized crime and will support a continued visible public safety presence in targeted areas including Union Square and Mid-Market in Downtown.
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Healthy Streets coordinated response

San Francisco’s Healthy Streets suite of programs provides a coordinated street response that offers alternatives to law enforcement responses to homelessness and behavioral health crisis.    

  • These innovative strategies bring City-led outreach and response teams into community to focus on acute behavioral health responses, wellness checks, housing and supportive services, and overdose response and prevention. Partner City agencies include the Department of Emergency Management, San Francisco Fire Department and Community Paramedicine, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Department of Public Health, and Public Works. 
  • In 2023, the City will expand its existing network of Street Response Teams that currently include 12 teams capable of responding 24 hours-a-day. A pilot Community Response Team consisting of community organizations will partner with city agencies to further expand the City’s ability to respond to street conditions and incidents with a community-based and human-centered approach. Additionally, a new Public Awareness Campaign will educate the public on these coordinated street response services so residents know what to do when they observe situations on the street in need of response.
  • Additionally, the City has expanded community ambassadors along the downtown corridor, tourist areas, and other priority locations to help support public safety and community needs. 
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Street vending regulations

Street vending is an important platform for small merchants and artisans, and a part of San Francisco’s cultural fabric, but street vending can also lead to sidewalk overcrowding, the resale of stolen merchandise, unsafe conditions, and disruption to nearby small businesses. 

  • In March 2022, the Board of Supervisors passed street vending legislation introduced by Mayor Breed that established a regulatory framework for vendors. This new framework gives street vendors clear operating parameters while creating a way for the City to monitor and discourage the resale of stolen merchandise and thereby reduce incentives for retail theft.  
  • Public Works developed permitting guidelines and is now working to engage with street vendors to educate them about the new permitting program and encourage registration. The goal is to reduce retail theft and property crime, while creating cleaner, safer public spaces that empower the legal street vending economy.
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Parking garage security

Public parking garages are a gateway to Downtown for many visitors, and the City is committed to ensuring that these facilities present a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all users.  

  • The San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) recently upgraded all City-managed garages with new technology to provide secure credit card transactions and tighten access to facilities during off hours. In partnership with the Recreation and Parks Department, the SFMTA is additionally increasing security at Union Square Garage by installing secure rolling doors and enhancements that limit access overnight as well as increasing staffing to expand the presence of roving staff in the garage. 
  • By the end of February 2023, security gates and locked pedestrian entrances will also be installed at the Fifth and Mission Garage near Yerba Buena Gardens. The SFMTA will also upgrade the lighting at the Ellis and O’Farrell Garage to ensure evening and nighttime visitors feel more secure and safe entering and exiting this facility between Market and Union Square. 
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311 Connected Worker App

Community Benefit Districts (CBDs) are City-sponsored organizations that are vital to day-to-day essential services, including cleaning, activation and other community needs in specific neighborhoods.  

  • In 2021, 311 expanded its Connected Worker App to allow Community Benefit District (CBD) crews to directly receive and respond to street and sidewalk cleaning requests through 311 so that they can work in closer partnership with Public Works and other City departments to resolve situations in their districts efficiently as they arise.  
  • To date, resolution time for complaints of loose trash was reduced from 34 to 5 hours on average, for graffiti in public spaces from six days to four hours, and graffiti on private properties from nine days to 13 hours. Participating CBDs include the Downtown, East Cut, Yerba Buena, SoMa West, Tenderloin and Civic Center.  
  • The City will continue partnering with CBDs to expand the reach and effectiveness of this new tool to keep Downtown streets clean and inviting at all times.
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Targeted cleaning crews

San Francisco Public Works provides daily cleaning services to keep San Francisco’s sidewalks, streets, and public spaces clean and welcoming to residents, workers, visitors and business owners.

  • Cleaning crews are steam cleaning and addressing litter throughout Downtown daily. Additionally, Public Works deploys “Hot Spots” encampment cleanup crews to priority locations such as Embarcadero Plaza and throughout SoMa as well as the citywide overnight alley cleaning program that includes a substantial presence Downtown.
  • Mayor Breed’s 2022-2023 budget provided additional funding to ramp up areas in and around Union Square, Moscone Center, and Tenderloin, providing corridor ambassadors to maintain a consistent presence and increasing overnight flushing and steaming services.
  • As Public Works continues to hire key positions, additional needs in Downtown districts will be assessed for further targeted efforts.
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Refurbished transit platforms and shelters

Bus shelters and transit platforms are where many trips Downtown begin and end and a place where riders form their impressions of the overall conditions of the area where they are located. The City strives to provide a safe and clean experience at every bus, train or streetcar stop.

  • Beginning in 2023, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority (SFMTA) has increased regular transit stop cleaning by 50%. Under this new schedule, every transit shelter will be cleaned at least three times per week and all boarding platforms will be cleaned five days a week.
  • The SFMTA is also conducting a citywide evaluation of transit shelter conditions to target repairs and upgrades where they are needed most, including graffiti removal, replacing glass, benches and map cases, and general repairs and maintenance.
  • As part of its Next Generation Customer Information System, the SFMTA has also begun to install new LCD digital displays with real-time transit vehicle arrival information at Muni transit shelters. The new displays feature accessible text-to-speech capability, larger and clearer text and letters and characters in multiple languages. About one-third of the 700 displays will be double-sided for additional visibility at  major transfer points.

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