'You're going to eat your words': SF Mayor London Breed on crime, safety, revitalizing downtown

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Thursday, April 13, 2023
'Eat your words': SF mayor on crime, safety, revitalizing downtown
San Francisco Mayor London Breed talks one-on-one with ABC7 about city's crime, safety and plans to revitalize downtown.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: An arrest has been made in the San Francisco stabbing death of 43-year-old tech executive Bob Lee, according to ABC7 News contributor Phil Matier. He confirms information that Mission Local is reporting, that the man arrested appeared to have known Lee and it was not a random street crime. Get the latest updates here.

San Francisco made headlines recently for all the wrong reasons: from the murder of tech executive Bob Lee, to the closing of a Whole Foods and an ongoing drug crisis.

During a one-on-one sit down with Mayor London Breed, ABC7 News reporter Tim Johns asked her what she's doing to keep the city safe.

INTERACTIVE: Take a look at the ABC7 Neighborhood Safety Tracker

"Our overall crime rates are down. Our clearance rate in San Francisco for homicides is at 85%. The rest of the country's average is at 60%," Breed said.

Mayor Breed points to the extra funding she helped push through for the San Francisco Police Department, and says public safety is one of her top concerns.

VIDEO: SF Mayor London Breed speaks about Bob Lee stabbing investigation, public safety in the city

San Francisco Mayor London Breed says that social media has helped spread a message questioning the city's safety after several high-profile violent attacks.

According to the latest FBI data, San Francisco's property crime rates are among the highest nationwide.

However, for homicides per capita it ranks close to the bottom among major cities.

"But oftentimes the PR matters more than the reality, whether we like it or not. Are you worried about the reputation our city is getting both domestically and even abroad?" ABC7 News asked Breed.

Her answer was yes.

And Breed says the city is taking steps to confront this perception head-on by spreading more positive information nationwide about San Francisco.

MORE: Is SF's violent crime as 'horrific' as tech execs claim? Here's what data shows

"We are looking at launching a campaign to get people to San Francisco. We're hoping to be able to launch it in May or June," Breed said.

We also discussed her plans to revitalize the city's crucial downtown core.

Office vacancies are currently sitting at an all-time high of around 30% and tech layoffs have hit the local economy hard.

Breed says with hybrid work not likely to go away, the city needs to reinvent its central business district.

MORE: San Francisco officials introduce plan to convert vacant downtown offices into housing

She wants to attract new industries like AI and biotech into the city and convert unused office space into housing and cultural venues.

"What we are doing is we're trying to make it to create office space for uses that people want, that people need other than office space. And make our policies different than what they are now," Breed said.

No easy task in a city that's often criticized for getting in its own way.

"Do you think we have the political willpower in the city to do that? I know you and your office have been fierce advocates of the things you mention there, but you do have your critics on the Board of Supervisors," ABC7 News asked.

"I hope so because the money that is generated by mostly downtown in San Francisco is the same money that many of those critics want to use for many of our social service programs, and right now our city is facing a $780 million budget deficit," said Breed.

MORE: San Francisco wants extra $27M to pay police overtime, hire more officers and prosecutors

Breed says there's no doubt that San Francisco is currently in a transition period.

But she rejects the notion of the city entering a permanent downward spiral, especially given the concentration of wealth and talent in our region.

For her, the city by the bay will always have its magic.

"People have constantly written the obituary of San Francisco, and I say to them, you better write in pencil because you're going to have to re-write what happens as a result of what we're going to see change in our city. But, more importantly, you're going to eat your words."

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