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AI industry will help struggling downtown, SF mayor says

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Tuesday cited progress in the effort to revitalize the city’s beleaguered downtown. Earlier this year, Mayor Breed laid out a “Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future,” identifying a vision for revitalizing the downtown district.

The plan called for 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

On Tuesday, Mayor Breed’s office issued a six-month update on the implementation of the plan. The roadmap has made progress in changing laws to fill vacant spaces, reforming taxes, launching downtown activations, and making streets cleaner and safer, according to a statement.

“We have been working both aggressively and methodically to deliver key changes to support our economy and Downtown’s revitalization,” said Mayor London Breed. “While this work takes time, we have already seen successful efforts to bring people back Downtown and increasing excitement about San Francisco’s future. This fall we will again welcome major events like Dreamforce and Fleet Week to Downtown, and capture the world’s attention when we host APEC, drawing all the government and business leaders from Asia for a major summit here in San Francisco.”

The mayor also cited the emerging AI space as cause for optimism in the city’s recovery, saying, “With growing industries like AI taking hold in our City, continued focus on making our streets clean and safe, and key activations bringing on the ground changes, I’m optimistic of what lies ahead.”

Factors that have contributed to SF’s downtown recovery over the past six months, according to the mayor’s office, include:

  • A 10% increase in office demand in the second quarter of 2023
  • The largest new police academy class in three years and an increase in starting pay
  • Securing funding for over 15,000 housing slots and nearly 4,000 shelter beds since 2018
  • Increasing office attendance by over 38% since July 2022, the largest year-over-year gain of any U.S. city
  • Amended codes to ensure flexible zoning to accommodate the widest possible range of activities and uses
  • Matching aspiring entrepreneurs and artists with vacant ground floor space Downtown
  • Supported activations and events like Bhangra & Beats Night Market, Union Square in Bloom, UNDSCVRD SF Block Party and World Cup Village watch parties
  • Efforts to enliven public spaces and plazas including the Civic Center four-day Carnival and a new skate park to be installed in UN Plaza

Downtown San Francisco’s post-pandemic struggles have been well-documented in the local and national media. Many of the city’s tech workers have yet to pivot back to in-office work from working remotely. The city’s historically robust downtown and Union Square retail sectors have seen high-profile closures from stores like Nordstrom, Saks Off 5th and Old Navy.

Meanwhile, the city is in the grips of a rampant fentanyl crisis. Recently, it was reported that workers at the city’s federal building had been instructed to work from home indefinitely due to unsafe conditions outside the building.

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