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

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Monday, September 11, 2023
SF's Dreamforce conference could be in jeopardy due to homeless crisis
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has said that if this year's Dreamforce conference is impacted by the current homeless situation, it may be the last one held in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The future of next year's Dreamforce conference, the biggest conference in San Francisco, could be in question because of the homeless crisis.

Salesforce has been having its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco since 2003. Last year, it brought 40,000 people to the city and generated $40 million in the downtown economy, and all that could potentially be gone.

"We need to work together to come up with solutions to ensure that this event is a success and that San Francisco is a success," said Alex Bastian, president and CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. "We can only achieve that if we employ common sense. If we employ solutions and work together."

VIDEO: Dreamforce conference returns to San Francisco, convention attendees acknowledge city challenges

San Francisco's largest conference in years is now underway with tens of thousands in the city for Dreamforce.

On Tuesday, Salesforce CEO Marc 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."

The comments come in the wake of a court battle between San Francisco and the Coalition on Homelessness on clearing homeless encampments.

"Mr. Benioff's comments unfortunately highlight how important it is for us to resolve this injunction in a way that allows to provide shelter and services, but also maintain healthy and clean streets," Said San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. "We have to do this. Everyone is suffering."

Last week, hundreds urged federal judges to remove the injunction that's limiting San Francisco. One of the federal judges challenged the definition of involuntarily homeless and there seemed to be an agreement.

VIDEO: Hundreds rally for judges to remove injunction blocking SF from clearing homeless encampments

The issue of homelessness in San Francisco went before three federal judges on Wednesday.

"They agreed that if a person is offered shelter or if a person has alternative access to shelter, the city ought to enforce our laws against that individual," said Chiu. "They agreed that under the laws."

When the city tried to get that in writing, Chiu said the Coalition on Homelessness backtracked.

"They wouldn't commit to these things in writing so we had to inform the ninth circuit that the conversation were not fruitful and they are going to have to rule on these issues," said Chiu.

One of the attorneys representing the coalition disagrees.

"No backtracking from the actual definition. There are 4,000 people who are outside right now because they do not have access to shelter," said Zal Shroff, Interim Legal Director at LCCRSF.

VIDEO: Former SF Mayor Frank Jordan criticizes London Breed's approach to solving homeless crisis

Former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan says despite Mayor London Breed pouring billions of dollars to try and fix the homeless crisis, conditions are not getting any better.

The coalition is standing firm saying the city doesn't have enough shelter to house homeless individuals.

"If the city offers housing to somebody who is unhoused and that person refuses to get housing - they can be enforced against right now," said Shroff. "That is exactly what we are presenting to the ninth circuit. Very few people are in that boat because the city isn't actually making real offers of shelter."

San Francisco's Mayor London Breed said she alerted the courts and hopes they will issue a ruling in the city's favor.

This year's Dreamforce is scheduled for September 12-14 in San Francisco.

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