After a year riddled with difficulties in the face of COVID-19, San Francisco Mayor London Breed laid out plans for the city’s road to recovery during her 2021 State of the City address on Thursday.
Breed delivered her address just after Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this week lifted a month-long stay-at-home order, allowing for several low-risk activities, including outdoor dining and indoor nail and hair salons, to resume in the city starting on Thursday.
“San Francisco’s response to COVID-19 has been hailed as a national model. We have the lowest death rate of any major city in the U.S. and though every life lost is a tragedy, we have saved thousands of lives and now we can see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Breed said, speaking from the city’s COVID Command Center at the Moscone Center.
“Yes, it has been hard and no, we’re not out of the woods yet,” she said. “But there’s reason for hope. On Monday the stay-at-home order for the Bay Area was lifted and today we can begin to recover. Today we can begin to reopen our doors, reopen our businesses, resume our lives, with some restrictions and many, many precautions of course, but we are reopening.”
Breed’s immediate plans for the year include moving forward with opening three mass vaccination sites, with one site at City College of San Francisco already operating on an invitation-only basis for now as more vaccine doese are secured. Part of the vaccination plan includes ensuring the sites can serve 10,000 people daily.
Other initiatives Breed is pursuing include helping small businesses by removing bureaucratic barriers; advancing the city’s goal of building 5,000 new housing units annually; moving forward with her Homeless Recovery Plan to create 1,500 units of permanent supportive housing; and expanding Mental Health SF.
Breed said she’s also hoping to implement the Street Crisis Response Team pilot program citywide, which replaces law enforcement with behavioral health specialists for emergency calls regarding people experiencing mental health or substance use-related emergencies.
During her speech, Breed also stressed the need to reopen the city’s schools, which have been closed since March 2019 due to the pandemic.
“Our city can’t fully recover until our students are supported and our schools are open and I will continue to do everything I can to help get our kids back in the classroom,” she said.
Breed also highlighted efforts to revive the city in the wake of COVID-19 by pledging $3.5 billion in public infrastructure projects like strengthening the city’s seawall, improving public transit and building more police and fire stations as well as mental health facilities.
In addition, Breed said she hoped to help the city’s shuttered cultural and music venues, clubs, restaurants, bars and other nightlife venues reopen.
“This terrible pandemic tore our neighborhoods, tore us from our businesses, tore us from one another,” she said. “Our diversity, our acceptance, our spirit is what makes us strong and no virus, whether it’s named Covid or HIV, is going to take that away. Quite the opposite, it will only make us stronger.”