London Breed, the San Francisco Mayor, has been thrown upside the head by the reality of the past two years. She announced 2021 a “crackdown on open-air drug markets.” Last year, she went toe to toe with Chesa Boudin, the radical city prosecutor. She is more supportive of police than most Democratic big city mayors, and she has pushed back on fringe policies that were enacted in radical city councils.
Breed made a harsh assessment of San Fransico Thursday in her “state-of-the-city” address. It angered some on the far left, but it may have offered hope for many others.
Teleworking, like Washington, D.C., has hollowed San Francisco’s downtown, as the nation undergoes radical transformations following the forced lockdowns of offices and closings during the pandemic. Breed, unlike Muriel Bowser (D.C. Mayor), who begged Joe Biden for federal workers to return to their offices, wants to take it all in stride and adapt to the new reality as quickly as possible. Breed dismissed concerns by referring back to the most tragic event in San Francisco’s past.
“And you know what?” She said, “That’s okay.” Let’s be realistic. Downtown was largely made of rubble and ash in 1907. This is a far worse situation than the shift in how people work today.
Breed’s moderator rhetoric is a result of San Francisco voters recalling three radical members of the school board and, more importantly, Chesa Bodin. Breed is a good politician who goes with the flow. Breed also realizes that the city has become almost unlivable by cutting police budgets, and refusing to enforce many “quality-of-life” crimes.
California is in a budget crisis. Breed however wants to spend money on housing.
Breed assured a cheering crowd Thursday that she would seek $25 million more for police officers, to improve city permitting processes so small businesses can open and grow more easily, and remove any barriers to housing construction. Partly, Breed plans to build 82,000 new homes by rezoning taller buildings and reducing red tape that makes it prohibitively expensive to build in San Francisco. Critics claim that the plan will result in too many luxurious units and not enough housing for low- or middle-income households.
Breed announced plans to rebuild downtown San Francisco in part by offering tax relief to businesses that were most affected by the pandemic. This includes retail shops, restaurants, and arts venues, as well as tax relief for other businesses. Breed also plans to give tax breaks for up to three years for office businesses that are located in the city.
Not everyone is impressed.
“Tax breaks to wealthy corporations, regulation of luxury housing development, as well as a $25 million grant for the police department”. In a statement, San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston stated that the mayor’s plan is nothing more than doubling down on failed strategies that don’t work.
While art galleries are not “rich corporations”, nor are trendy, snooty eateries, they are certainly part of the city’s DNA. These types of businesses are part of San Francisco’s DNA and may lead to a modest revival, along with incentives to open downtown offices.
It’s not possible to guarantee that. Breed is making some hard but necessary steps to make San Fransisco liveable again.
San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in America. It’s been suffering for decades from bad government. Breed remains a radical on many matters. However, it is an indication of intelligent leadership to tip her hat toward reality.