Breed's plea to stop shopping online part of her plan to revitalize SF Union Square

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced plans Tuesday for improvements at Union Square, hoping to attract more tourists to a popular spot that has been beset by store closures and retail theft.

"For all of you folks who shop online, please stop!" Breed said to laughter, surrounded by supporters and business officials at the Powell Street cable-car turnaround.

The locale was symbolic, as Breed hopes to spearhead a turnaround in the way the world sees San Francisco.

"The perception and challenges around crime and other issues have just put out a lot of information that isn’t entirely accurate," Breed said.

The mayor said she's set aside $15 million in her proposed budget to revitalize Union Square and nearby Yerba Buena to prove to everyone that San Francisco has turned the corner post-pandemic.

"We are back folks! We’re not coming back! We are back!" the mayor said to cheers.

Her plans include turning empty storefronts into longer-term pop-ups, launching a leasing campaign, providing reduced-cost parking in city garages and maintaining a strong San Francisco police presence. On Tuesday, KTVU spotted officers riding an ATV on Powell Street. 

Breed's hope is to turn attention away from businesses that have left, like Express and Nordstrom, and the planned closures of stores like Macy's and Williams-Sonoma.

She said retail theft and car break-ins have declined significantly.

"We are starting to see and feel a difference. Is it perfect? No it’s not perfect. But we are doubling down, working hard," she said.

Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of the Union Square Alliance, agreed and noted the group gathered behind her. "What we’re seeing here behind us is all of us, a village coming together and saying we want the heart of our city to be strong again," Rodriguez said.

Lauren Ellis, partner and director at CK Contemporary, a Union Square art gallery, said, "There has always been good here in Union Square, even in times when we’ve been dealing with more difficult moments.

Ellis added, "We’re here at the front row of the cable cars, and we have a lot of wonderful openings that are happening as well. There are new stores going in on Post Street, there are new galleries opening."

A couple visiting from Mexico said their experience has been positive.

"We didn't hear anything about crime, just stay away from some areas, and we found San Francisco great, we loved it," said Judith Caraveo.

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and