Breed’s ‘Downtown Recovery Plan’ Throws $7.5 Million at Community Ambassadors Program
Mayor London Breed announced plans Tuesday to allocate $9.5 million in her upcoming budget proposal for what she calls the Downtown Recovery Plan.
The vast majority of the funds — $7.5 million — would be slated for expansion of the Community Ambassadors Program. The remaining $2 million would be evenly split between improvements to the Hallidie Plaza and a “SFWednesdays” event series.
Billed as an initiative to bolster tourism and business in the downtown area, Breed is hedging her bets on the “welcoming atmosphere” Community Ambassadors can provide by helping confused commuters and visitors find their way and connecting distressed individuals with appropriate services. The ambassadors would also be expected to report safety issues and public spaces in need of cleaning.
The expansion would be focused on transit hubs and tourist hotspots with approximately 50 Community Ambassadors stationed in the Union Square, Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown areas.
Breed’s $1 million plan for Hallidie Plaza, which serves as a gateway to Union Square, would enable a thorough scrubbing and installation of greenery and “colorful furniture.” Food and drink options will also be increased for people coming through BART’s Powell St. station and disembarking from the Cable Car.
If the mayor’s budget is approved with the plan intact, the city would host at least 10 two-hour Wednesday events focused on arts and culture. City officials are collaborating with the local arts community to determine the best activities suited for a variety of locations, including transit hubs, public plazas, pedestrian streets and alleyways. If all goes as planned, the events would begin in July and run through October sometime between the hours of noon and 6 p.m.
Given the mid-week schedule, the event portion of the plan seems more geared toward daily commuters, residents and business travelers.
Among several supporters quoted in the official Office of the Mayor news release was Ralph Remington, San Francisco Arts Commission director of cultural affairs, who said:
“By jump starting cultural activities downtown, the City is signaling to our San Francisco and Greater Bay Area residents, We Are Open and We Welcome You Back! The artists and performances that will enliven these downtown plazas beautifully reflect our city’s racial equity values; they will bring vitality and life back to our streets, and help everyone remember why San Francisco is so special. We champion and celebrate the BIPOC artists that make us a world-class destination. In addition to awakening the soul after this year-long slumber of sorts, and re-engaging with our shared humanity, these arts programs will also increase the economic activity downtown, which the city also needs.”
Breed is due to officially introduce her budget proposal on June 1.