SF Union Square's safe-shopping initiative is back for the holiday season

San Francisco's Union Square is gearing up for the holiday season. City officials say the area is safe, clean and ready for shoppers.

The tree is up ready to be lit, the rink is frozen and the shopping destination is open for business. 

"And I am looking forward to seeing even more excitement and opportunity for people to shop and dine in the 49," said Mayor London Breed. 

City leaders said they've increased police patrols and presence in the area, to make sure shoppers and visitors feel safe.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said his department has arrested more than 230 people in more than 40 retail theft operations so far this year. He said his department is mobilizing to make sure the mass thefts that have plagued the area are a thing of the past. 

"The organized retail theft like the Dior ramming, of the Dior store a couple weeks ago," said Chief Scott. "We were right there and unfortunately we can prevent it, but we captured the people that did it and they were prosecuted that is what it's going to take."

The Union Square Alliance said the area will host the lighting of the holiday tree, and the Winter Walk, filling the area with food trucks and festivities. The alliance says 27 new businesses have opened recently. A sign that business owners are betting on the future, putting their money where their mouth is. 

"We're seeing a restaurant boom, there are some major players betting on Union Square," said Marisa Rodriguez from the Union Square Alliance.

Tyler Florence is one of those betting on the city. He's opened not one, but two restaurants on Union Square just in time for the holiday shopping season. He's hoping that sentiment rubs off on others and they see the opportunity he has. "I say this to all my colleagues in the hospitality industry; there's lots of really great deals out there right now," said Florence. "Go shopping. Trust me, you're not going to see these deals in another five years or so when it comes back up again. Just go shopping."

During the APEC event Nov. 13-19, streets and freeway ramps around the Moscone Center will be closed, and garage and on-street parking will be limited. Specific streets and closures are listed on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency website.

The holiday tree in Union Square is set to be lit this Thursday, kicking off the unofficial beginning of the holiday season here in the city.


Celebrity chef Tyler Florence opens two cafes in SF Union Square

Two new cafés opened up in Union Square Monday, as celebrity chef Tyler Florence joins in the efforts to bring more people to downtown San Francisco. 

Bay City News contributed to this report.