SF Mayor London Breed announced a $9.5 million plan on Tuesday that marks the city's first effort to boost foot traffic around downtown in the waning days of the pandemic.
The Downtown Recovery Plan, as its called, is part of the upcoming proposed two-year city budget that Breed will be introducing on June 1. And it includes funding for multiple events, including something called "SFWednesdays," which will be a weekly series of events beginning in July centered around transit hubs — like Union Square and the Transbay Transit Center plaza.
As the SF Business Times reported from a press conference at Union Square, the Downtown Recovery Plan hopes to work in tandem with the Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan that was announced last week. Under that plan, dozens of new "community ambassadors" from Urban Alchemy will join more SFPD officers on foot patrol around the Tenderloin and Mid-Market, in order to deter drug dealing and other criminal activity, and attempt to create a safer vibe around the area for pedestrians who aren't there to score. That plan comes with its own budget, and upwards of $8 million to expand and extend the ambassador program.
The Downtown Recovery Plan includes money to fix up the always beleaguered Hallidie Plaza and the area around the cable-car turnaround. And on at least 10 Wednesdays between July and October, various plazas will be brought to life with live performances and more.
"Local San Francisco artists will be employed to support the economic recovery of the arts and business community," says the SFWednesdays website. "Popular venues where retail and hospitality naturally mix with day to day workers such as Union Square, Yerba Buena Lane, Mechanics Plaza and the Transbay Plaza will feature music, dance and other live performance as San Francisco renews and recovers."
Still missing from the plan is, obviously, a guaranteed flow of downtown workers or tourists, neither of which are actually back in any pre-pandemic numbers. But obviously the city hopes they will follow in short order.
Breed used the press conference today to issue some new fightin' words for the Board of Supervisors, accusing them of slow-walking and watering down her Small Business Recovery Act and the legislation to make the Shared Spaces program for bars and restaurants.
"The Board has messed with the wrong mayor," Breed said, and a video of her comments was quickly posted to her Twitter on Tuesday. She said that the Board's proposed revisions to the legislation "make it more difficult to do business in San Francisco," and if they don't quickly pass it, she will "take a different sort of action." Breed says she will put her Small Business Recovery plan on the November ballot if she has to, and she added "I know you all will be with me when I do that."
For our small businesses and our economy to fully recover, we need to pass the Small Business Recovery Act and our Shared Spaces legislation.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) May 25, 2021
They can either pass the Board of Supervisors or I’ll go directly to the voters.
Either way, we’re going to get this done. pic.twitter.com/vvMzqQ50v4
Breed's comments come after Chronicle columnist Heather Knight has been highlighting the conflict between the mayor and some supervisors over legislation — proposed by her and Supervisor Matt Haney — that would remove the ability of a single person to trigger an appeals process that further complicates the opening of a business or the start of a development. Under the legislation, the objecting individual would need to collect 50 signatures to petition the Board of Appeal, but Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Dean Preston voted to table the legislation, first proposed in November, in committee last week, with Peskin denying that such appeals are a problem.
Under a separate proposal aimed at helping small businesses, Preston was set to introduce legislation at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors' meeting that would force SF landlords to forgive 100% of rent for businesses that were forced to shutter due to COVID health orders.