'Not just Dreamforce': SF mayor responds to Benioff's claim that city transformed for conference

ByLena Howland, Suzanne Phan KGO logo
Friday, September 15, 2023
SF mayor responds to claim that city transformed for Dreamforce
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff asks why San Francisco can't be clean and safe every day after increased patrols for Dreamforce conference.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's the third and final day of one of San Francisco's largest conferences: Dreamforce, hosted by Salesforce at the Moscone Center.

Outside of the conference headquarters at the Moscone Center, attendees saw extra police, security, crossing guards and guides -- not to mention the streets which were sprayed down multiple times each morning around the perimeter.

"It's an amazing city. It's an icon for tech and innovation," said AJ Shah, a Chicago resident.

There was an unusually large amount of city workers, making sure that the 43,000 visitors get the cleanest and safest version of San Francisco possible.

RELATED: Dreamforce kicks off in SF, drawing in more than 40,000 with focus on artificial intelligence

Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference kicked off in San Francisco at the Moscone Center with main focus on future of artificial intelligence.

"Why can't San Francisco be like this every single day? Why does it take us having to say (something)? What is that?" Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff asked Gov. Gavin Newsom on stage at a Dreamforce event Wednesday.

Newsom responded saying, "Yes, it can be like this," doubling down on calls for the city to find a permanent solution for homelessness, drug use and crime and telling Benioff that elected officials must do more.

This is just two weeks after Benioff told the San Francisco Chronicle "If this Dreamforce is impacted by the current situation with homelessness and drug use, it may be the last Dreamforce in the city."

"Our hotel's about a mile away, and the walk back and forth feels really safe, and I feel like we've had pretty good experiences outside of Dreamforce. And I feel like if we needed support, it would be available to us, so that's not bad," said Lura Whittier, a Phoenix resident.

RELATED: Dreamforce 2023 transforms San Francisco's Moscone Center, surrounding streets

Around San Francisco's Moscone Center, the streets are packed with work crews, equipment, and thousands of visitors in town for Dreamforce 2023.

Whittier said she felt perfectly comfortable with a long walk through the city to get to the Moscone Center.

"100%, yeah," she said.

Mayor London Breed and other city and business leaders say they are taking steps to make the city safe for visitors, with extra patrols that started over the weekend.

RELATED: The future of SF's biggest conference could be in question due to the homeless crisis

It is welcome news for attendees here from across the country.

"Every city has its characteristics, but it's been really nice. It's felt safe, there's lots of guides here helping us walk around with escorts if we need it," Shah said.

And with a projected $90 million of revenue expected to be generated for the city from this event, other attendees say the conference has no business leaving the city.

"I'd hate to see it leave. I mean, I hope that whatever issues they have can be resolved, and I think they can, because I'd hate to see it leave," said Steve Molis, a Boston resident. "I love this city. I love this event. I can't see it being anywhere else."

And if anything, some say Dreamforce is great preparation for an even bigger event to come in November: the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) global trade summit.

ABC7 News asked Mayor London Breed to respond to Benioff's claim that Dreamforce made the city's transformation possible.

"It's not just because of Dreamforce. There are other conventions," Breed said. "This is what we do for every convention that comes to SF."

Breed says conventions are key to the city's economic recovery. And she claims things have improved.

MORE: Mayor London Breed frustrated by tech's slow return to San Francisco

"My pushback is SF is changing. Things are getting better," Breed said.

The mayor admits that the city still sees challenges in the Tenderloin and South of Market.

"Part of what I'm doing is not pointing the finger at anyone but rolling up my sleeves and taking responsibility and do everything we can to address those issues," she said -- issues like drug use, homelessness and crime.

"We are seeing some impacts, especially with daytime open-air drug dealing and other issues. We are aggressively doing everything we can. And over time, we will see some improvements. In fact, I think they are already happening," Breed said.

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Koroush Nowry and Meghan Aguayo live and work in San Francisco and attended this year's Dreamforce. They noticed a big difference in and around Moscone Center.

"Yeah, I think they did a good job cleaning up for Dreamforce," Nowry said.

"To be honest, I think people like to exaggerate how bad SF has gotten," Aguayo said.

Dreamforce attendees have had varying impressions of San Francisco.

MORE: San Francisco launches multimillion-dollar campaign to boost tourism

"I heard things. But everything was fine," said Adolfo Folioco, a Dreamforce attendee from Florida.

"It's sad to see some of the things that are happening but I think this stuff happens everywhere," said Analay Souza-Campos, a Dreamforce attendee from Florida.

Breed says JP Morgan Chase hosted its convention in San Francisco and wrote about its incredible experiences in the city.

Breed also says many other companies have signed on to hold their convention in San Francisco in the coming years.

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