San Francisco International (SFO) plays an important role in attracting business to the city, acting as a major gateway to the rest of the US, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The first phase of upgrades to the Harvey Milk terminal (formerly known as the South terminal) opened in May 2021, with seven new departure gates and a new post-security passenger walkway which connects it to the international terminal, allowing passengers to connect to domestic flights without having to go through an additional security checkpoint.
“[The upgrading of SFO is] going to be a continual process,” says D’Alessandro, “but for the business traveler, those types of improvements are going to make the experience in San Francisco much more positive.” The final phase of the terminal will be completed in spring 2024.”[It’s also] the first airport terminal in the world named after an LGBTQ+ leader,” says D’Alessandro. It features a display of exhibition content honoring the life of the political leader and activist.
While cities across the world are attempting to bounce back from Covid-19, San Francisco has a tougher job than most. Its notorious reputation for social problems such as racial and economic disparities, drug addiction, homelessness and crime existed well before the pandemic.
Recently, the city has put a major focus on tackling its widely publicized challenges through focused funding. The city budget for 2021 to 2023 includes US$25 million allocated for the Street Crisis Response Team (a rapid, de-escalation response unit for people experiencing behavioral health crises on city streets) and US$9.6 million for the Street Wellness Response Team, to provide Immediate wellbeing checks, and medical and social services to those experiencing homelessness.
There have also been changes to policing strategies, including the Tourism Deployment Plan, high-visibility police presence in tourism areas. In July 2020, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed introduced the Homeless Recovery Plan with the largest expansion of Permanent Supportive Housing in the city in 20 years, and over the last two years, the city has leased or acquired more than 2,500 new units for the project.
“I’m really impressed with the steps that the city and the mayor are taking, and also the people of San Francisco,” says D’Alessandro. “In the last few years, they voted for a number of ballot measures that would significantly raise the amount of funds to provide long-term supportive housing for people and also short-term care. “I think what we’re going to see in San Francisco in the next few years is significant improvement on the street, which is great for everybody.”