Signed out
London Breed was raised by her grandmother in San Francisco and grew up in public housing -- a far cry from the mayorship of her hometown.

Breed got her start in city politics early as an intern during Mayor Willie Brown’s administration. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, in 1997 and later a master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco in 2012. She was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2012, becoming its president in 2015.

Breed became the 45th mayor of San Francisco in 2018, winning a special election following the death of Mayor Ed Lee. She is the first African American woman to hold the role. She was elected to a full term in 2019.

Baseball game
Trolly

How San Francisco was affected by COVID-19

San Francisco has long been a draw for tech moguls. The vibrant West Coast city was a major hub for innovation, tourism and the hospitality industry. Companies like SalesForce put down roots in downtown San Francisco, drawing thousands of new workers to the region. The growth, though, created massive income inequality issues. Furthermore, the city has long struggled with homelessness, so much so that Breed made finding a solution a cornerstone of her mayorship.

Covid only exacerbated the city’s problems. At the end of February 2020, Breed declared a “State of Emergency” and in March of that year she ordered residents to shelter-in-place, making it one of the first major metropolitan areas to go into lockdown. Almost immediately the area suffered many economic challenges: unemployment was hard to apply for, residents struggled to pay high rents and there was massive uncertainty about the future of restaurants and the retail industry.

“It got to the point where I drew the line, and said it’s time for us to shut the city down... and I figured if we did that soon enough, we'd be able to open faster. I didn't think we'd be closed for over a year.”
– London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco

As companies around the world pushed for employees to work from home, the tech sector made broad pronouncements about allowing employees to work from home indefinitely -- a existential threat to the high-priced city. Rethinking their own corporate footprint, companies like Pinterest paid nearly $90 million to break a lease, while others like the drugmaker Bayer -- which once called its San Francisco innovation hub its center for North American research -- have shuttered their San Francisco offices. A tech exodus occurred as people left the expensive city for cheaper locals and the number of houses on the market has exploded.

By The Numbers
Source: U.S. Census Bureau | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis | BLS.gov
7.9%
Unemployment§
531.25 B
Gross Domestic Product¥
874,961
Resident Population
$112,449
Median Household Income¥
§
Numbers indicate % change in attributes from April 2020 to April 2021.
¥
As of 2019
As of 2020

Presented by

Google

According to a newly released report by The Connected Commerce Council in partnership with Google, BIPOC-led SMBs on average are especially likely (Black 68%, Asian 67%, Hispanic/Latinx 65%) to find digital tools helpful to their business. The Grow with Google Digital Coaches program in the Bay Area and Los Angeles provides free hands-on coaching and digital skills training to help Black and Latino small businesses reach new customers, thrive online, and grow. To date, the program has helped train more than 6,400 small business owners around California.

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How San Francisco is handling COVID-19

But not all the news is bad. Vaccine rates in San Francisco are among the highest in the country. More than 70 percent of San Francisco eligible residents are now fully vaccinated. Earlier this month, Breed removed all of the pandemic-related restrictions.

Some of her early aggressive moves also paid dividends. Early on, facing a wave of xenophobia, Breed decided to provide financial relief for businesses in Chinatown. Those relief efforts have expanded over time: the city has contributed more than $24 million grants and loans to more than 1,370 businesses since March 2020, with another $26 million in progress. The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development has awarded about 52 percent of its small business relief grants to women-owned businesses, and 72.4 percent to minority-owned businesses.

“We’ve been able to invest close to 1 billion dollars in our small businesses … we tried to get creative around making sure we were prioritizing those businesses that had no alternative than to be completely closed … There are a number of things we’ve done and continue to do to make sure business continues in San Francisco, that it grows, that it thrives. It’s going to be a bit of a recovery, but eventually we’ll get there.”
– London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco

And many of the small businesses -- retail and restaurants -- forced to close or remain open with limited operations have begun to reemerge. Breed has pushed to keep sidewalks and parking spots open for outdoor dining. She has also taken the opportunity to try to deal with the city’s income inequality and housing crises head on.

San Francisco Unemployment Rate

Source: BLS.gov

The people who make San Francisco work

Department of Public Health

Grant Colfax

Department of Public Health

Grant Colfax

Dr. Grant Colfax is the director of the Department of Public Health in San Francisco. He has led the city’s entire Covid-19 response effort.

Department of Children, Youth and Their Families

Maria Su

Department of Children, Youth and Their Families

Maria Su

Maria Su is the executive director of the Department of Children Youth and Their Families. She is a key linchpin for the mayor on all initiatives supporting families and youth.

Director of Policy

Andres Power

Director of Policy

Andres Power

Andres Power is the mayor’s director of policy and is involved in every significant city policy. He works on all of Breed’s policies, including her early Covid-19 response and has led efforts around economic recovery.

City Administrator

Carmen Chu

City Administrator

Carmen Chu

Carmen Chu is the city administrator and the highest ranking non-elected official in San Francisco. She is responsible for a number of departments that were central to San Francisco’s reopening. She also served as the chair of the mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force this summer and fall.

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What Was San Francisco Searching For?

The pulse of the city of San Francisco can been seen through the search results of the last year. In April 2020, unemployment surpassed healthcare and continues to be the top political issue search term in San Francisco.

Political Issues

Top Searched Political Issues, 2021 in San Francisco - Bay Area

Source: Google Trends

unemployment
wages
healthcare
race
immigration

What's next for San Francisco post COVID-19

Breed is bullish on the future of San Francisco. While she concedes that some have left, she likened it to the tech bubble that burst in the early 2000s. While other lower cost cities have tried to woo tech start ups and other San Francisco mainstays, Breed is confident that they’ll be back. “People will come back. San Francisco is a major city. It's a beautiful city. It’s a place for innovation.”

“At the end of the day there is no place I’d rather be than in San Francisco”
– London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco

In the meantime, Breed’s administration is focused on building more homes for people of all economic levels. So that when people return there will be available housing for people looking to rejoin the dynamic city and take advantage of its restaurants, theater and large parks.

People eating
People eating

From The Mayor's Office

Rey Justo

Presented by

Google

After Rey Justo lost his construction job during the pandemic, he and his family had to move in with his grandparents. When the only jobs he was able to find couldn’t pay the bills, he decided to enroll in the Google IT Support Certificate program through Merit America. They helped him earn his Google Career Certificate, and now he works at Zennify, a computer software company.

To help more people like Rey, Google.org has awarded over $1.3M in grants to workforce development nonprofits, including San Francisco-based organizations Jewish Vocational Services, Collective Impact, Dev/Mission, ClimbHire, and Upwardly Global. The funding is aimed at supporting pathways to jobs for young people, as well as those from underserved backgrounds, including refugees and migrants.

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