STREET ISSUES THREATEN VITALITY OF SF RESTAURANTS
By Gwyneth Borden
San Francisco is renown as a world-class restaurant destination, receiving national and international recognition with many of our restaurants taking top honors from Michelin stars to James Beard Awards.
San Franciscans are well-aware of the quality of our dining scene, supporting our local industry which represents more than 64,000 jobs and generates more than half of all the retail sales tax collected in San Francisco. Restaurants are in every part of the city and are crucial to the overall fabric of neighborhoods providing vibrancy and attracting locals and tourists alike to support our commercial corridors.
The state of our streets, however, is threatening the vitality our restaurants. As public gathering spaces, restaurants are on the frontline of welcoming everyone, but the condition of our streets is compromising our hospitality. Every day restaurant workers are having to clean up waste and needles and often are trying to figure out how to connect someone who is on their doorstep or in their restaurant with services.
Customers are reluctant to dine outside on a street that is filthy or feels unsafe, which is contributory to the increasing trend of San Franciscans choosing to have food delivered rather than dine in restaurants. This shift threatens neighborhood vitality, can be contributory to traffic congestion and hurts the overall bottom line of restaurants, impacting their ability to survive.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association works closely with the city and a variety of nonprofit partners to provide jobs for those who want to transition into restaurant careers, whether they’re incarcerated, homeless or just in need of employment. We know through public/private partnerships that streets and lives can be transformed – there are many success stories within our restaurant community.
We’re also part of the CleanSafe365 Coalition, which is committed to working with our next mayor to fix the crisis on our streets. Our members see that sweeps without services and accountability shifts the problem from neighborhood to neighborhood and doesn’t solve the systemic problems. We implore the next mayor to implement an action plan quickly to change the tide of our streets; our culture of hospitality will not allow us to rest until there’s real change. We are the city that knows how, now let’s do it.
Gwyneth Borden is the Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, a founding member of the CleanSafe365 Coalition.
WORLD-CLASS SAN FRANCISCO DESERVES BEST STREETS - EVERY DAY
By John M. Bozeman
A great city welcomes all who visit, live and work within it by providing clean, safe and civil streets, every single day.
Anyone who traverses San Francisco’s streets throughout all its neighborhoods should be able to do so knowing that they are safe, free from harassment and debris, and able to engage freely in commerce with our unique and treasured small business community members. These basic tenets provide a fundamental foundation for a great city. That’s why the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of San Francisco is honored to be a member of the CleanSafe365 Coalition.
Without question, San Francisco has been undergoing rapidly deteriorating street conditions that require immediate attention from our next mayor, and indeed from all elected officials. It is time to implement proven, cost-effective, short-term solutions to this ostensibly perennial issue.
Using the wealth of San Francisco’s existing resources, enforcing existing laws, and ensuring accountability from all stakeholders – public and private – will help improve the safety, cleanliness and civility of our streets. The next mayor must make this a top priority and take the lead for making a measurable difference.
BOMA San Francisco’s members care about the long-term health of San Francisco’s streets. They want the thousands of tenants, their employees, and their families to be able to enjoy every inch of our city’s streets without worrying about their health and security. It’s time for the City and County of San Francisco to invest prudently in the cleanliness, safety and civility of its streets for the benefit of our residents and visitors.
Nothing less than the best will do – the great City of San Francisco deserves it.
John M. Bozeman is the Government and Industry Affairs Director for the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco.
SAFE INJECTION SITES, ARE THEY AN ANSWER?
By Tallia Hart
While there are many contributing factors to the deteriorating state of San Francisco’s streets, the opioid epidemic’s role in perpetuating the cycle of homelessness, crime and filth cannot be ignored. About 8,000 needles are picked up off the streets each month by the public health department alone. Point blank, we are in an opioid crisis.
This spring the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce led a delegation of business and city leaders to Vancouver, a city that has grappled with a major opioid epidemic, a housing affordability crisis and homelessness. We met with Vancouver’s leaders, including Mayor Gregor Robertson, to learn how they are addressing these most pressing issues. We also toured Insite, the first legal supervised safe injection site in North America.
In the 1990s, in the midst of an HIV epidemic among injection drug users, drug-related overdose deaths reached record levels in Vancouver. After intensive research, public education and advocacy, Insite, opened in 2003 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where there is a high number of long-term injection drug users. Since then, Insite has never experienced an overdose death. In 2017, the site recorded 175,464 visits by 7,301 unique users.
More than 30 peer-reviewed studies show that Vancouver’s supervised injection and needle exchange programs decrease injections taking place on city streets and the number of needles discarded in public places, reduce the incidence of overdose deaths, and prevent the transmission of deadly diseases.
Safe injection sites are in the pipeline in San Francisco. Earlier this year, the San Francisco Health Commission voted unanimously to support the opening of safe injection sites, following the Safe Injection Services Task Force’s positive recommendation. They are supported by the leading candidates for mayor, and some of the legal hurdles would be overcome with the passage of AB186, that would approve pilot programs in a handful of counties, including San Francisco.
Our street environment is becoming more and more of an impediment to growing our businesses, attracting customers and retaining our workforce. Many organizations, including the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, have not yet taken a position on safe injection sites. But we should all consider following Vancouver’s lead. While not a panacea, safe injection sites could be one of many tools to address the complicated state of our streets. As a member of the CleanSafe365 Coalition, we urge the next mayor to protect the health of San Francisco residents, employees and visitors 365 days each and every year.
Tallia Hart is President and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
WE KNOW WE CAN FIX THIS
By Joe D’Alessandro
As the organization that markets San Francisco as a destination to the world, San Francisco Travel takes great pride in all that our city has to offer. We believe San Francisco is a magical, one-of-a-kind place that can continue to thrive and grow as a global destination.
However, we are seriously concerned about the deteriorating conditions on San Francisco’s streets. We are concerned about the allowance of individuals to live in inhumane circumstances on our sidewalks and in our parks. We are concerned about the human waste and needles that our visitors encounter as they explore our city. Lastly, we are concerned about the impact these issues will have on San Francisco’s most important and largest industry, tourism.
These issues need to be addressed immediately by San Francisco’s next mayor. We must find sustainable solutions for those suffering and we must provide a better experience for those visiting San Francisco.
San Francisco welcomes more than 25 million visitors annually. Visitors spend more than $9 billion in the city every year, supporting more than 80,000 jobs and generating more than $725 million in local taxes. Yet now, visitors to our city feel unsafe, uncomfortable and helpless. We are losing conventions, business and leisure travelers every day because of these issues.
These sizable economic losses will be felt by the hard-working women and men of San Francisco’s tourism industry and by our residents, who benefit from the large tax boost generated by tourism that pays for vital city services and numerous cultural programs.
Simply put, too much depends on San Francisco’s tourism industry to allow this potentially irreversible damage to our identity and reputation to continue.
We believe these issues can be remedied. We implore San Francisco’s next mayor to invest time and resources strategically and to address these issues at their source, for the sake of treating people with the dignity they deserve; for growing our city as a global destination; and, for those who work to make this city a better and more welcoming place.
We implore the next mayor to get San Francisco back on track. We know it can be done. We won’t give up on this city if you won’t
Joe D’Alessandro is President and CEO of San Francisco Travel, which is a proud member of the CleanSafe365 Coalition.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS CONTRIBUTE TO CLEAN, SAFE STREETS
By Karin Flood
The most important shared value of Cleansafe365 Coalition members is our commitment to San Francisco. We live here. We work here. And, we take pride in showing off our city to family, friends and the world.
Although there is more we all can do to keep San Francisco clean and safe and we’ll hold the next mayor accountable to immediate and sustainable solutions, the long-standing public-private partnerships help a lot as we all contribute to this common goal.
The Union Square Business Improvement District is a clear example of how CleanSafe365’s broad and diverse coalition of businesses, merchant groups, civic organizations, community benefit districts and property owners provide daily support and innovative ideas.
From red-jacketed Hospitality Ambassadors to Big Belly smart trash cans, the Union Square BID works hand in glove with City service providers to keep its iconic community clean and safe. In March alone, the District’s team compiled impressive statistics:
Our daily work has led to new ideas, including the 25 Big Belly trash cans with solar-fueled garbage compacting abilities, many of which may be replicated throughout the City. We’ve developed the:
- Security Camera Program with 350 cameras in Union Square, which have contributed to a reduction in bad street behavior.
- Downtown Streets Team, whose members are homeless individuals who clean the streets in exchange for a case worker who helps them find jobs/housing. We have two teams of four individuals each picking up litter and cleaning our alleys.
Because we’re on the streets every day, we understand the difficult job San Francisco faces to find a lasting solution. And as long-time contributing community partners, we know more must be done.
We’re asking the incoming mayor to declare a crisis on our streets, enforce existing laws and hold taxpayer-funded service providers accountable for results.
We will continue to be a strong partner for San Francisco, but we implore the next mayor to deliver to San Francisco Clean and Safe Streets 365 Days Each and Every Year.
Karin Flood is the Executive Director of the Union Square Business Improvement District, which is a proud member of CleanSafe365