Ensure Downtown is clean, safe, and inviting


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.

 

  • 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.  

  • Implementing the Mayor’s Home by the Bay plan to reduce unsheltered homelessness by half over the next five years. 

  • Continue enforcing street vending regulations to address the unpermitted selling of goods and discourage and disrupt the resale of stolen merchandise while supporting small entrepreneurs and keeping sidewalks accessible.  

  • Provided 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

  • Expanded targeted cleaning crews in key areas and hot spots.  

 

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Enhanced public safety presence

One of Mayor Breed’s top priorities is keeping the public safe by providing a visible, responsive, and effective public safety presence for everyone, including residents, workers, and visitors throughout the city and especially in areas with high foot traffic and other priority locations including Downtown. 

  • The Mayor’s 2023-24 budget includes public safety funding for 220 new police officers over two years and $25 million to support police overtime to ensure an adequate public safety response, while a new police contract will provide the highest starting salaries for new officers in the Bay Area as well as retention bonuses for veteran officers.  

  • The Police Department has seen an increase in applications, continues to hire additional officers and is deploying retired officers as on –the-ground Community Safety Ambassadors and Police Service Aides to deter criminal activity and respond to lower and mid-level calls for service, allowing sworn officers to respond to more serious offenses quicker.  

  • The City has launched a multi-agency operation that includes local police officers and state and federal public safety partners to disrupt open-air drug markets, focused in the Tenderloin and Mid-Market areas.

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Healthy Streets coordinated response

An enhanced police presence is just one component of a comprehensive public safety approach that also includes 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 expanded its existing network of nine crisis response and outreach Street Response Teams with the launch of a new Community Response Team and Homeless Engagement Assistance Response Team (HEART) to build on the existing array of crisis response and outreach teams including the Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT), Healthy Streets Operation Center (HSOC) and SF Homeless Outreach Team (SFHOT) and launched a new Public Awareness Campaign that will educate the public on how to connect with and access these coordinated street response services. 

  • The Mayor’s 2023-24 budget also includes nearly $50 million in funding to extend Downtown-focused community ambassador programs for two years.  The Mid-Market Safety Ambassadors program in Mid-Market and the Tenderloin provides a trauma-informed, non-police response for people experiencing homeless, addiction, or behavioral health issues on the street through non-profit partner Urban Alchemy. 

  • The Downtown Welcome Ambassadors program deploys ambassadors throughout the Financial District, Union Square, and northeast waterfront to help visitors find their way to key destinations and attractions in partnership with the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District. 

  • A new Street Ambassador Coordinator is further improving and coordinating existing ambassador programs citywide through City code changes, strategic planning and deployment, network building, and standardization of trainings and practices.

San Francisco has always been committed to supporting the most vulnerable members of our society, and that includes helping those experiencing homelessness connect with resources to access the housing, support services and opportunities they need to thrive. Without the right support, people experiencing homelessness struggle to improve their own conditions or contribute their full potential to San Francisco.  

  • In April 2023, Mayor Breed and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) announced Home by the Bay, an updated five-year strategic plan to help people Downtown and throughout the City to exit homelessness successfully.  

  • The equity-driven plan builds on the City’s commitment and success in increasing access to shelter and housing in recent years and lays out bold new objectives, including moving 30,000 people into housing and reducing unsheltered homelessness by half by 2028. 

  • The Mayor’s 2023-24 budget included investments to address homelessness including an additional 600 new shelter beds and over 1,000 permanent housing placements. Her budget further invests in expanded capacity in the City’s mental health care programs including an additional 500 behavioral health treatment beds, and the development of a network of wellness hubs providing overdose prevention and wrap around health and social services.

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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 also providing a way for the City to monitor and discourage the resale of stolen merchandise, thereby reducing incentives for retail theft.   

  • Public Works has established permitting guidelines and continues to work 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 Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has upgraded all City-managed garages with new technology to provide secure credit card transactions and tighten access to facilities during off hours. Additionally, in February 2023, the SFMTA, in partnership with the Recreation and Parks Department, increased security at the Union Square Garage by installing secure rolling doors and enhancements that limit access overnight, while also increasing staffing to expand the presence of roving staff in the garage.  

  • Security gates and locked pedestrian entrances were installed at the Fifth and Mission garage near Yerba Buena Gardens in May 2023. Security cameras and intercoms at the Ellis and O’Farrell garage were installed in May 2023, and work to install security cameras at the Fifth and Mission garage is expected to be complete in September 2023. The SFMTA is also in the process of upgrading 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.   

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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 funds Public Works cleaning crews who power wash sidewalks, remove litter, and sweep gutters. It also provides courtesy graffiti removal for storefronts and other private property in neighborhood commercial corridors. The Department continues participation in daily joint operations with City departments in the Tenderloin.  

  • Public Works continues to collaborate closely with SF Travel and the Moscone Conference Center as well as with the Downtown theaters to ensure cleanliness and safety during events with increased crowds.

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Refurbished transit platforms and shelters

Bus shelters and transit platforms are where many trips Downtown begin and end and are 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 Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has increased regular transit stop cleaning by 50%. Under this new schedule, all boarding platforms are cleaned five times per week. All transit shelters are cleaned regularly with a focus on specific areas, including Market Street, Mission Street, and the Tenderloin. 

  • As of May 2023, the SFMTA has also conducted 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. The repair and upgrade work is underway and in some cases glass is being removed from shelters that have had persistent graffiti issues. 

  • The SFMTA continues to install new LCD digital displays with real-time information as part of its Next Generation Customer Information System.  The new displays feature accessible text-to-speech capability, larger and clearer text and letters and characters in multiple languages.  For this fall, the SFMTA will also be introducing dynamic maps that show live vehicle positions in addition to predictions.  Beginning this fall and through 2024, the SFMTA will also be installing double-sided signs for additional visibility at high-ridership stops and larger, brighter signs at rail stations.  This will include Downtown Muni stops and stations to support the area’s recovery.

 

See other economic recovery strategies

 

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