San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Meeting Her City’s Challenges

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Meeting Her City’s Challenges

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Meeting Her City’s Challenges

The 47-year-old mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, grew up in this postcard-perfect city, but much of it wasn’t part of her childhood. “I grew up in poverty,” she says. “I grew up in public housing, so I wasn’t exposed early on to all the beauty you see now. I didn’t know some of these neighborhoods even existed in San Francisco.”

For this mayor who has risen from poverty, fighting inequality in the city is one of her major challenges. In an area home to many of the world’s most valuable businesses, San Francisco now has 8,000 homeless people, the fourth-highest percentage of any US city, compounded by some of the country’s highest home prices.

Smash-and-grab robberies, along with car break-ins, have become their own picture postcard, underlined by the fact that police solve fewer than seven percent of those property crimes, much to the ire of residents and the $6 billion tourist industry. from the city.

Correspondent John Blackstone asked Breed: “You said yourself, many people in the city no longer feel safe here.”

“Yes, and I think that’s why we’re working on it,” she replied, “by making sure we can add more police officers. We’re working on it by having alternatives to police work, to respond to people dealing with mental health issues. health issues.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed with correspondent John Blackstone.

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After Breed was elected four years ago, she grabbed a broom and planned to spend tens of millions of dollars a year cleaning the streets. In total, San Francisco spends one billion city, state and federal dollars on homelessness.

“Every morning there are people working for the city and county of San Francisco and cleaning up where you wouldn’t even know it’s the same neighborhood,” Breed said. “And even before noon, we’re dealing with some of the same challenges from the litter and feces and urine and some of the other issues that many of us are frustrated about.”

Those frustrations, especially about crime, might just make this famously liberal city a little less liberal. In a recall this month, voters kicked out prosecutor that critics called “soft” on crime. That followed the February recall of leftist school board members who focused on? renaming buildings instead of reopening them during the pandemic.

On the national stage, politics here are a juicy target for right-wing critics. On Fox News, conservative commentator Jesse Watters described San Francisco as “a tech mecca surrounded by a filthy moat of degeneracy, lawlessness, criminals and drugs.”

It’s rhetoric with a long legacy, reinforced in 2007 when Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, became the first female Speaker of the House. Republicans spoke scornfully of “San Francisco values.” On “The Bill O’Reilly Show,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, “I mean, Nancy Pelosi represents a value system in San Francisco.”

Blackstone asked Breed, “What? to be San Francisco values?”

“I think San Francisco’s values ​​really consist of pushing the boundaries and being willing to try things that can make people uncomfortable with the goal of really changing people’s lives,” she replied.

“But I think the problem San Francisco faces is that it’s become shorthand for ‘liberal lunatics’ for people on the right.”

“Yeah, and again, there’s nothing I can do about that, except make sure we take care of our city,” Breed said. “We’re cleaning it up, we’re keeping people safe, and we’re doing the things that make the people who live, work and visit here happy.”

In December, the mayor broke with the city’s often lenient policies when she announced plans to crack down on crime: “And it will come to an end when we take steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement, more aggressive with the changes in law enforcement.” our policies, and less tolerant of all the bulls*** that have destroyed our city.”

San Francisco struggles with homelessness and an increase in car burglaries and other property crimes.

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Blackstone asked, “I looked at the police dashboard. The shoplifting, that’s over this year. Is your crackdown on crime working?’

“I don’t think it’s a fair assessment to take statistics and then equate them to a big headline about San Francisco being dangerous,” she said, “especially when you look at our homicide rate in particular, and if you looks at the number of cases we’ve been able to solve and the number of people we’ve been able to hold accountable.”

FBI Violent Crime Statistics Confirm: at least 65 other cities have more murders, rapes, and assaults than San Francisco. But high-profile crimes, such as car theft and shoplifting, are up nearly 17% so far this year compared to last year.

Breed said: “I don’t think numbers mean anything when something happens to you. So ultimately we have to do a better job of improving the feeling of people in the city.”

One of the improvements the mayor is proud of is a transformed corner in a tough neighborhood. “The corner of Hyde and Turk, this used to be a notorious area where a lot of drugs was traded and used and everything that happened there. If you go there today, there’s a park, a brand new parking lot there, and kids now use it the park.”

The Turk-Hyde Mini Park is made for toddlers in the heart of the Tenderloin.

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Blackstone asked, “Let me ask you to explain San Francisco to an outsider.”

“Ooh, that’s a tough one!” Race laughed. “Complicated. Unique. Beautiful. Crazy. Wild. Fun. Innovative. Challenging. All those things and more.”

Like any other American city, San Francisco has a lot of problems, but like any other mayor of a big city, London Breed is her city’s biggest fan: “I love San Francisco, even though it is a complex city with all its challenges. , his problems. But it is a place of beauty. It is a place of hope. It is a place of opportunity.”

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Story produced by John Goodwin and Christine Weicher. Editor: Ben McCormick.