What does San Francisco need to do to fix its image now that Dreamforce is done for the year?

Lyanne Melendez Image
Saturday, September 16, 2023
How will SF continue to fix its image after Dreamforce?
One organization addressed unhoused, cleanliness and safety issues now that the Dreamforce Convention 2023 convention has concluded in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco put on its best face for the recent Dreamforce Convention. During the past three days, it was all about safety and clean streets, two things we haven't seen much of near Moscone Center in the South of Market neighborhood.

But what happens now that all of the visitors are gone? What are the city's plans to continue fixing its image?

Marc Benioff and his mega convention, Dreamforce, will have pumped an estimated $57 million into San Francisco's economy.

But not before warning the city to be on its best behavior, telling the Chronicle, "If this Dreamforce is impacted by the current situation with homelessness and drug use, it may be the last Dreamforce in the city."

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

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff asks why San Francisco can't be clean and safe every day after increased patrols for Dreamforce conference.

Mayor London Breed seemed to call his bluff.

"They have not had any problems hosting their conventions in the past and they won't in the future," expressed Breed.

Still, the mayor admitted they "have never had to work so hard to clean up the city."

Police everywhere. Clean up crews on every block near Moscone.

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.

Which begs the question: Where are all the tents and the unhoused people who typically hunker down near Moscone Center and its surrounding areas?

Streets that until recently were crammed with tents, looked somewhat pristine.

Instead, what we saw were many of the homeless people moving in the opposite direction of Dreamforce.

We asked two unhoused men where they were headed.

"It's not a good feeling, it's kinda like a different kind of segregation," expressed Elvis Meeker.

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.

"They've managed to keep most of the homeless people in a couple of blocks like this part of SOMA and the Tenderloin," added Steven Bruder.

We finally found the homeless encampments three long blocks from Dreamforce and a good distance from visitors.

Leah Rubin manages Dacha Cafe and Bar on Mission Street.

"They're just keeping a lot of the people away from that area in general that look homeless and so on and forth," explained Rubin. She also told us she had never seen the area so clean.

Benioff echoed the same sentiment when speaking on Wednesday with Governor Gavin Newsom.

"It's amazing how clean the streets are, it's incredible," said Benioff. "Because we're sucking up to you. We want to keep you here," interrupted Newsom who received a lot of laughs.

MORE: The future of SF's biggest conference could be in question due to the 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.

That may be true, but where does Benioff's frustration come from?

Let's go back to 2017 when the city reported approximately 6,858 homeless people, living either on the streets or in shelters.

That same year the nonprofit Tipping Point pledged $100 million to help those organizations directly involved with the homeless. The goal was to cut chronic homelessness in half over the next five years. But they never anticipated a global pandemic.

"What happened was people became homeless and when someone becomes homeless, as they are on the street longer, they become chronically homeless, said Sam Cobbs

Then in 2018, Benioff spent a lot of his own money to help pass Proposition C which taxes major companies to raise millions of dollars every year for homeless services.

"There's specifically things we can do now to directly address this problem and that's why we're voting for Proposition C," said Benioff in an exclusive 2018 interview with ABC7 News.

Still, one year later in 2019 the homeless population increased to about 8,035 and the latest numbers for 2022, 7,754, see a slight improvement but still not better than in 2017.

Adding to the crisis is the rapid increase in the use of deadly fentanyl, which has incapacitated many who are trying to get off the streets.

"I haven't seen not too many people get off of fentanyl on their own free will. It takes help," said JJ Smith, a Tenderloin resident, who had just come back from attending a service for a 23 year-old who died of a fentanyl overdose.

So far this year, from January to July, 473 people have died of accidental overdoses, 385 due to fentanyl and the city is on track to reach a record 800 or more deaths this year.

MORE: 385 died of fentanyl overdose in SF this year; could set record, health officials say

Despite efforts to curtail the fentanyl crisis in San Francisco, health officials are reporting that 71 people died of an accidental overdose in July.

But this week, some of those negative images of San Francisco have been conveniently tucked away.

"Why can't San Francisco not be like this every single day?" asked Benioff. To which Governor Newsom responded, "Things have shifted, you've had it, you want accountability and everybody's job is on the line and it should be. You're right to be angry about this and it's time for cities to step up. It's no longer acceptable what's happening on the streets and sidewalks."

We asked Sam Cobbs of Tipping Point now that the governor has said he wants more accountability from every city official in San Francisco, will there finally be change in the city?

"I do believe that we're going to finally have change in San Francisco. But we also have to have accountability from our politicians and elected officials. We cannot continue to make homelessness the number one political issue in our city. And so that one politician is trying to solve it while another politician who wants to take their place is actually trying to undercut them because the worse it gets, the greater off their chances are, and so we need to have accountability from everyone," concluded Cobbs.

In about two months, San Francisco will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit with leaders from different parts of the world, including President Biden. It's a big deal. The area around Moscone Center will be safe and clean, but those participating in that Summit will not, by any means, be confined there and will travel outside of that zone. What they see will be written about and talked about back home much to the benefit or detriment of this city.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live