San Francisco

San Francisco Leaders, Residents Gather at the Castro for Tree Lighting Ceremony

Mayor London Breed was there and encouraged people from all over the Bay Area to shop in the city

NBC Universal, Inc. Elected officials and dozens of San Francisco residents gathered Monday for some holiday cheer in the Castro. Jean Elle reports.

Elected officials and dozens of San Francisco residents gathered Monday for some holiday cheer in the Castro.

The holiday tradition of lighting the tree returned after COVID restrictions canceled it last year.

Mayor London Breed was there and encouraged people from all over the Bay Area to shop in the city. She said she knows safety is a concern, but it’s being addressed.

“Make sure you get gifts at all the businesses in San Francisco,” said Breed. “We are in the midst of an economic recovery.”

An economic recovery interrupted by smash-and-grab robberies that are scaring shoppers away.

The mayor said she hopes felony charges filed against suspects paired with a visible police presence will help stop the thefts and make shoppers feel more comfortable in districts like Union Square. 

“My hope is these people are held accountable and others see this as a lesson - in the meantime we have officers downtown,” said Breed.

Sam Fabela said the police presence is reassuring.

“If they're there I know protection is going on,” she said.

State Senator Scott Wiener said he will be supporting the governor's request to increase funding for the organized retail theft task force.

And hopes the police presence serves as a deterrent.

“It’s not the shopping experience people want, to have cops everywhere but it's a way to send a message -- we are not going to tolerate this,” he said.

The San Francisco Police Department said it will also increase patrols around special holiday events like the tree lighting.