8 Ways San Francisco Plans to Save Downtown

In recent years, Downtown San Francisco has faced a variety of challenges, from business closures to safety concerns.

However, the city is not standing idly by. Here are nine strategic ways San Francisco plans to revitalize and save its downtown area, according to a plan released by the city.

In the report, San Francisco officials say “Prior to the pandemic, the Downtown area provided nearly 70% of the jobs in San Francisco and generated the majority of the City’s tax base and revenue.” San Francisco plans to return to that state.

1. Ensuring a Safe and Inviting Downtown

The plan here is to invest in smart and strategic initiatives that will increase public safety and improve cleanliness in a focused, efficient, and effective manner.

This includes supporting businesses, residents, and visitors with enhanced public safety presence and growing Healthy Streets coordinated response programs to better street conditions.

2. Attracting and Retaining Businesses

Embarcedero Center
Embarcedero Center

San Francisco recognizes the importance of diversity in its business landscape and is looking to attract and retain a wide array of industries and employers. This strategy involves offering tax relief and incentives, along with exploring new tax reforms to adapt to the changing work patterns.

3. Flexible Business Use and Adaptability

There’s a push for maximizing the ability to update and adapt office buildings to meet the needs of new interested tenants. This includes amending the Planning Code for flexible zoning and preparing a housing conversion analysis to identify the feasibility of office-to-residential conversions.

4. Streamlining Business Start-ups

The city plans to make it easier to start and grow a business through creating transparency and streamlining processes. This includes direct business recovery assistance and expanding the First-Year Free program to reduce permit costs for new businesses.

5. Workforce Preparation

With growing industry sectors, there’s a need to grow and prepare the local workforce. Strategies include implementing the Mayor’s Housing for All strategy and providing industry-informed training programs.

6. Cultivating Arts, Culture, and Nightlife

People walk near the Ferry Building
People walk near the Ferry Building

Transforming Downtown into a leading arts, culture, and nightlife destination is another key strategy. The plan includes designating an Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Zone and supporting public space events that highlight local talent and culture.

6. Enhancing Public Spaces

Investing in public spaces to enhance the Downtown experience is also on the agenda. This involves completing the transition of Shared Spaces outdoor dining to a permanent program and initiating new design elements in public spaces to showcase the Downtown environment.

7. Improving Transportation Connections

Maintaining and improving access to Downtown by every mode of transportation while enhancing the reliability, efficiency, and quality of service is essential. This means making it easier to travel with improved Muni connections and providing faster trips to Downtown with ongoing Muni Forward improvements on key lines.

8. Marketing Downtown’s Story

Finally, San Francisco aims to reclaim its brand as a premier world city with proactive marketing campaigns. This includes a more national visitor attraction campaign and launching the Heart of SF social media campaign to affirm the city’s evolving identity.

These strategies show a comprehensive approach to not only save Downtown San Francisco but to ensure its growth and vitality for the future. With these efforts, the city is poised to become a model for urban revitalization.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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