San Francisco Mayor London Breed touched on several key issues the city is focusing on — including bolstered efforts to crack down on crime and public drug use — during her State of the City address on Wednesday.
Breed’s address comes nearly two years after the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and just as the city has begun easing mask mandates in an effort to reopen the city.
During the address, Breed touched on her Tenderloin Emergency Intervention Plan, which began being implemented in late December, starting with a 90-day emergency declaration for the downtown neighborhood that allows the city to waive zoning and contracting rules to better serve people living on the streets and suffering from substance use and mental health issues.
The plan also aims to address crime, public drug use, and overdose deaths in the neighborhood, with the addition of increased police presence.
“We need law enforcement to keep people safe, to make arrests, to hold people accountable, and to support victims,” she said. “But right now, police staffing is at crisis levels, with just over 1,630 police officers. That’s over 250 fewer officers than we had three years ago, and 540 officers below what we need, according to our city’s independent analysis based on a growing population. We simply do not have the police staffing to meet the needs of a major city, especially as we welcome workers and visitors back.”
She added, “While we have more work to do, our Police Department has embraced reforms over the last five years leading to fewer use-of-force incidents and police shootings, and rapidly diversifying the Police Department so it reflects the community it serves.”
Breed said in addition to strengthening the Police Department, newly implemented programs like the Community Ambassadors Program, the Community Guardians team, and the Street Crisis Response Team aim to provide alternatives to policing.
“Let’s be the national model for reform, for alternatives, and for safety. We can do it all and we don’t have to choose,” she said.
Breed delivered her annual speech this year at Mission Rock, the southeastern waterfront site where new housing projects are underway. In total, the area and nearby sites will receive some 5,000 new market-rate homes and 2,000 affordable homes.
“(P)olice staffing is at crisis levels, with just over 1,630 police officers. … We simply do not have the police staffing to meet the needs of a major city, especially as we welcome workers and visitors back.”Mayor London Breed
“In this area, in the coming years, 7,000 homes will be built as part of just three waterfront projects alone, here at Mission Rock, at Pier 70 and at the Potrero Power Station. These will be diverse neighborhoods with new housing at all income levels,” she said. “New neighborhoods, new parks, and open spaces all along the waterfront and throughout the Dogpatch. New offices and storefronts. This doesn’t happen in a city that is dying, it happens in a city that is growing and thriving.”
According to Breed, in 2020, the city completed construction on some 4,400 new homes, and in 2021 built about 4,600 more. Breed said she is hoping to improve those numbers through a proposed ballot initiative this coming November to increase housing production.
In addition to increased housing, Breed also touted the city’s latest major transportation projects near completion, including the Van Ness Improvement Project — set to be finished next month — and the Central Subway Project, which could be unveiled later this year.
“Housing, jobs, environmental justice, investments, innovation, parks, and transportation. That’s what’s happening in San Francisco and that is the work we must do all over this city,” she said.
Breed closed her 35-minute speech on an optimistic, prideful note.
“So next time, when someone asks what’s happening in San Francisco, you tell them that … this city will rise to meet our challenges, day after day. Relentless in our effort and unyielding in our values, that’s who we are. We are San Francisco. We are loud, we are proud, we are hopeful, and we are resilient, San Francisco. So let’s tell them that.”