San Francisco’s Chinatown has seen tourism numbers and its neighborhood economy plummet since the start of the pandemic as negative stories about crime there also went viral.
Now, city leaders and residents hope of new beginnings and booming business in the area.
There was a large turnout for Saturday’s events in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and merchants say they are seeing a lot more customers come in.
At Chinatown’s Annual Springtime Festival, San Francisco Mayor London Breed sees signs of the “good old days” in the thousands of faces packing the street.
“The people out here today demonstrate clearly that they love this city. They enjoy the city. They’re having a good time in San Francisco,” she said.
Following COVID restrictions, it’s been tough for the neighborhood to bounce back.
Washington D.C. resident Susan Leber said she and her family have seen videos and pictures of crime in Chinatown, but came anyway.
“We’ve been feeling safe and feeling fine. It’s a beautiful day. A lot of people are out,” Leber said.
After spending millions of more police patrols and adding a few hundred unarmed community ambassadors to the downtown and tourism corridor, city leaders and merchants say public opinion and the economy is turning around.
“It’s helped tremendously. We’re lucky. We’re one of the few districts where we’re working very good with the community working together, the SFPD, the community ambassadors,” said Eva Lee with the Chinatown Merchants Association
“Things have actually reversed. A lot of central station police presence, unarmed local ambassadors. Crime is down, and spirits are up,” said San Francisco Board Of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin.
San Francisco resident Guillermo Palatto told NBC Bay Area Saturday that he might feel safer in Chinatown, where he was supporting his son’s “lion dancer” program. But he and his son don’t feel that safe in their own neighborhood near 7th and Mission.
“It’s like a zombie town. There are so many homeless and drug dealers. It’s ridiculous. I can’t even walk with my son on the street,” Palatto said.
“I get that there are still challenges, and we will do everything we can to keep people safe and deal with those challenges,” Breed said.
Source: NBC Bay Area