SF Mayor Breed lays out plan to combat crime, revitalize downtown in State of the City address

ByLyanne Melendez and Tim Johns KGO logo
Friday, February 10, 2023
Breed gives revitalization plan for SF's future in State of the City
Mayor London Breed did not mince words during her State of the City address when discussing the numerous problems facing San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor London Breed delivered her traditional State of the City address Thursday with an emphasis on public safety.

She acknowledged there are many challenges still ahead -- and promised those in attendance that the city will rise again.

Her speech was different from last year's address, where in 2022 Mayor Breed's main focus was on the impact COVID had, for two years, on San Francisco.

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On Thursday, it was more like a survivor getting past a shipwreck, without the distraction of COVID and having a better picture of what it will take to get San Francisco back on course.

San Francisco's persistent problems were highlighted at the top of the mayor's speech. "Public safety concerns, a spiraling fentanyl crisis, empty offices, shuttered businesses..."

To overcome those problems, Mayor London Breed said first and foremost the city must guarantee public safety.

VIDEO: Watch Mayor London Breed's full 2023 State of the City address

San Francisco Mayor London Breed delivered her State of the City address on Thursday.

"Our residents are demanding we build back the police force, and we need to deliver. The push for staffing has to be consistent and it has to be sustained," she said.

But Mayor Breed made it clear, full staffing is still years away. The extra overtime will go to make sure that officers continue walking beats and making more drug arrests.

"I want to make one thing very clear: I am NOT OK with open-air drug dealing in this city. Period," Mayor Breed said.

The mayor stressed that public safety is crucial in bringing the downtown economy back to to life. "But even as we do, we must accept another tough fact: San Francisco Downtown as we knew it is not coming back. And that's OK."

Breed passionately laid her plan to deal with the city's numerous problems- most notably reducing crime and revitalizing a downtown ravaged by the pandemic.

Her plan "A Roadmap for the Future of Downtown" will include:

  • Reforming the tax structure to make the city more competitive
  • Pausing tax increases on retail businesses, hotels and others
  • Offer tax breaks for three years for any company that comes to San Francisco

It's a plan that the Office of Economic and Workforce Development has been working on for months.

"I think in the past we sometimes didn't have to work as hard and now we are in this opportunity where we have to say, look what does make it distinct for a business, for someone to work here as compared to other parts of the county or the world and to put those things forward," she said.

She then wants to increase SFPD back to full staffing, and authorize millions of dollars in police overtime funding.

"Our residents are demanding that we build a safe city, that we build back our police force, and we need to deliver for them," said Breed.

More housing downtown would help revitalize the area. But overall, the city must build 82,000 homes. Breed called for removing the barriers to the building process and change NIMBY attitudes throughout the city.

The mayor reminded everyone that San Francisco is the only county in the Bay Area that was able to reduce homelessness over the last three years.

Despite that, many residents see it as an never ending crisis. Thursday she introduced a five-year strategic plan on homelessness.

"It will set clear goals for our Department and nonprofit partners which we will demand they meet."

Accomplishing the goals Breed laid out won't be easy, says ABC7 News Insider Phil Matier.

"I've seen San Francisco and other cities deal with one or two of these at one time, but I've never seen one faced with all of them at once," he said.

Matier says besides getting the political support to implement her plan, Breed will likely also run into financial challenges.

"She has got to balance a lot of things with less and less money," said Matier.

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Following her speech, other city leaders wasted no time in pushing back against some of the mayor's proposals.

"I was disappointed with the speech today, and to be honest it's nothing really new here," said San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston.

Preston says he thinks Breed's speech is the wrong starting point to address the city's problems.

He tells ABC7 News while he thinks some common ground can be found, he believes the focus should be more on helping working class residents.

"The idea that we should take this moment where we have challenges in the city and think that our top priority is how to woo businesses back to downtown through more tax breaks, instead of looking at how we invest in our neighborhoods and invest in our communities, I just think that's the wrong approach," Preston said.

And on the streets of San Francisco, public opinion also seemingly divided on the mayor's plans, with some more supportive than others.

But everyone still optimistic about the type of place San Francisco can be.

Despite what she called a "tough few years," Mayor Breed assured San Franciscans that the city will endure and that anything is possible.

"And we create a world where a young girl from the projects can become mayor," she said.

Watch Mayor Breed's full State of the City address in the video player above.

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