The much-ballyhooed “Doom Loop Walking Tour” unsurprisingly got called off shortly before it was supposed to happen Saturday, but by canceling it, the anonymous City Hall commissioner who posted the tour accidentally made his identity public. And now he has resigned.
When a bizarre and intentionally provocative Downtown Doom Loop Walking Tour was posted to Eventbrite earlier this month, the whole thing seemed like a publicity stunt that was unlikely to actually happen. This histrionic language of the invite, posted by an anonymous “urban policy professional, card-carrying City Commissioner overseeing a municipal department with an annual budget over $500m, and cofounder of San Francisco's largest neighborhood association,” seemed specifically tailored to grab the attention of right-wing media, and it did manage to sell out at $30 a ticket.
A walking tour that promised to show the “worst of San Francisco” was abruptly canceled Saturday, replaced by a counter-tour providing a much different view of the Tenderloin and downtown.https://t.co/WSTB4jt4gF— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) August 27, 2023
The Doom Loop Walking Tour’s day finally arrived Saturday, and knock me over with a feather, the host abruptly canceled it at the last minute, according to the Chronicle. “Unfortunately, the substantial media interest means that it is not possible to preserve my anonymity while publicly posting the tour’s time and meeting location,” the host wrote to ticket holders in a Friday afternoon email. “This compels me to cancel (Saturday’s) scheduled tour.”
But there was an unexpected consequence for the organizer who’d hoped to remain anonymous. When you cancel a ticketed event on Eventbrite, ticket buyers get to see the host’s registered email so they can get their refunds. And according to a Sunday report from the Chronicle, that cancellation “identified a person with Alex Ludlum’s email address as the event organizer.” Ludlum is the Breed-appointed vice president of the city’s Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure.
Want to get away?
NEW:— Demian Bulwa (@demianbulwa) August 27, 2023
Who was the organizer of the "Downtown Doom Loop Walking Tour" of the "worst of San Francisco"?
Well, refunds for the canceled tour list the email address of Alex Ludlum, a land-use commissioner appointed by Mayor London Breed. https://t.co/cR27QlCHBr
The 35-year-old Ludlum is also the co-founder of the SoMa West Community Benefit District and was appointed by Breed to the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure in March 2022. That commission’s website also identifies Ludlum as “a real estate professional.”
Looks like we know who the person pushing the “Doom Loop” tour in San Francisco is. Alex Ludlum, who not only is a commissioner, but - shock - also turns out to work in property management.— Tom Coates (@tomcoates) August 27, 2023
Supervisor Aaron Peskin seemed to confirm it was Ludlum in remarks to the SF Standard after the Chronicle’s story broke. Peskin said he had spoken with Ludlum, and Peskin told the Standard that Ludlum “basically said that he meant it in jest but it got out of hand.”
Other supervisors were more pointed in their remarks. “It’s pretty outrageous that a commissioner would think this was appropriate,” Supervisor Dean Preston told the Chronicle. “Taking cheap shots like this at the Tenderloin solves nothing and harms the community and the entire city.”
Tenderloin Walking Tour highlighting the history, art, and community of our most misunderstood and maligned neighborhood. The news of SF’s demise is greatly exaggerated. pic.twitter.com/RPS6wsiiJ3— Sister Roma (@SisterRoma) August 26, 2023
The Chronicle’s reporting notes that Code Tenderloin founder Del Seymour offered an alternative “positive” tour of the neighborhood Saturday, which drew an estimated 70 people.
It is fair to say that most of us have never heard of the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, nor this commissioner Alex Ludlum. That commission appears to meet the first Tuesday of every month.
"I regret that my attempt to bring attention to the deplorable street conditions & rampant criminality in my neighborhood has been misconstrued as a mockery of suffering individuals. Satire is a poor way to address the grave issues we face as a city," Ludlum reportedly writes.
“The causes of the conditions we witness daily are not individual actors, but wide-ranging policies that permit an organized & malicious element to thrive in San Francisco. The unchecked drug dealing is plainly the root of our current problems. ... All of downtown will suffer until the markets are closed. As Mayor, I hope you will continue to address these dire issues, and will have my full support in doing so."
Breed's spokesperson Jeff Cretan said in a statement, "The decision to organize and publicize the tour was a mistake and a deep error in judgment. We are working every day to address the city’s challenges, and our focus remains on doing the work to move this city forward."