For an area of San Francisco that has been slow to recover, last week’s Warriors Parade brought a much-needed flurry of activity to our downtown neighborhoods. But the Warriors can’t provide a parade every week. It underscored the need for San Francisco to hurry up and provide real relief for our downtown core.
The numbers are stark: sales tax revenue in the area is down 40 percent and only 30 percent of office workers have returned. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like elected officials in San Francisco are reacting. The director of the city’s main economic agency recently suggested waiting another six months to “look at bigger guns.” Supervisors of Districts 3 and 6, encompassing downtown, have the power to call for a joint-agency hearing and demand an action plan. Neither have so far.
As the economic engine of our city, we can’t gamble with the future of downtown. Here’s what citizens should ask their city government to pursue right now:
Streamline and fast track housing conversions
Our downtown needs more residents to lessen its reliance on workers and convention-goers alone. This transition will be slow, but we need to start now. The city can fight for state funding to incentivize conversions from offices to housing, while also stripping away excessive permitting fees and regulations that force developers to work with the longest permitting timelines in the entire country. In 2022, Washington D.C. and Chicago will each see more than 1,000 housing units converted from office use.