San Francisco Highlights Street Cleaning and Public Safety Initiatives in Chinatown to Ensure Safe Lunar New Year Celebrations

The City also launched special holiday programming to support local merchants in the neighborhood
February 06, 2024

San Francisco, CA  Today, City and community leaders gathered in Chinatown to highlight efforts to ensure Lunar New Year in San Francisco is clean, safe, and vibrant for residents, visitors, and small businesses. In Portsmouth Square, Mayor London N. Breed joined City Administrator Carmen Chu, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, City Attorney David Chiu, Assessor Recorder Joaquin Torres, and Police Chief Bill Scott.  

Throughout Chinatown, Public Works has deployed additional cleaning crews and the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has ramped up patrols in the area in preparation for the City to welcome residents and visitors who will take part in upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations. 

San Francisco’s historic Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest of its kind outside of Asia. The neighborhood's shops and restaurants are packed with locals and visitors leading up to and during the New Year festivities, which culminate with the world-famous Chinese New Year Parade on February 24. 

“The Year of the Dragon symbolizes energy, drive, and confidence — traits that showcase the City’s commitment to making sure that our beloved Chinatown is safe, clean, and welcoming during this important holiday season,” said Mayor London Breed. “The City and our community partners make sure that Chinatown shines all year long, but we’re breathing extra fire during the holiday season to ring in the Year of the Dragon with a celebratory bang.”  

"Lunar New Year is an important time to come together, celebrate our rich heritage and usher in good luck and fortune for the year ahead, and there's no better place in the country to do so than San Francisco Chinatown," said City Administrator Carmen Chu. "Our City's preparations--enhanced street cleanings, increased foot patrols, small business and festival support, free parking at Portsmouth Square, and more—help enliven our neighborhoods. I want to thank Mayor London Breed, department leadership, and our hardworking City staff and community leaders for their work to support Chinatown and other neighborhoods across the City during this very auspicious season." 

Public Safety Efforts Ramp Up for Lunar New Year Season 

Since February 1, SFPD has dedicated extra patrol units in Chinatown to ensure the neighborhood and festivities are safe and welcoming for residents and visitors to enjoy. The Department also increased the number of beat officers with additional overtime units on patrol. Community ambassadors, who are retired officers, will also be assigned to Chinatown, with more staffing on weekends. SFPD officers will also plan to distribute flyers on blessing scams as part of their public outreach efforts.   

“As we welcome in the Year of the Dragon, the San Francisco Police Department will be out in force to ensure everyone has a fun and safe New Year,” said Police Chief Bill Scott. “The Lunar New Year is an opportunity to showcase San Francisco as a world-class City. The SFPD is adding resources to Chinatown, including officers and community ambassadors, to ensure a joyous celebration for everyone.” 

SFPD’s public safety strategy for Lunar New Year includes the deployment of plainclothes teams who will focus on auto break-ins and organized retail theft to deter and arrest would-be criminals. The Department will increase the number of officers and resources to ensure the annual parade is safe and fun for everyone. Safety tips and additional information from SFPD are available at this link

The SFPD continues to work in close collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office to ensure people breaking the law and causing harm in communities are held accountable. 

“All City agencies are working tirelessly to ensure a safe and joyous celebration to usher in the Year of the Dragon,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “My office will continue to work in partnership with the San Francisco Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that those who would seek to take advantage and victimize residents and visitors at this time of celebration are held accountable and face consequences.” 

Ensuring Chinatown is Clean and Welcoming for Lunar New Year Celebrations 

Public Works crews have been on the ground for the department’s annual Chinese New Year deep-cleaning and beautification operation to highlight Chinatown’s historic beauty, including power washing the Dragon Gate at Bush and Grant streets, steam cleaning sidewalks, and alleyways, sweeping up litter and wiping out graffiti. 

Additionally, workers are repainting the decorative dragon lamp posts along Grant Avenue and the Broadway Tunnel, an important portal into the neighborhood, will undergo its annual cleaning.  

“It’s traditional before the New Year to do a deep cleaning to get rid of any bad luck before starting fresh,” said Public Works Director Carla Short. “The Public Works team takes tremendous pride in helping keep the custom alive and ensure that Chinatown remains one of the most vibrant and dynamic neighborhoods, not only in San Francisco but the world.”  

“In Chinese culture, three days before the Lunar New Year Day is ‘Cleaning Day,’ where people focus on sweeping away the problems of the past year and making room for new beginnings,” said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. “I’m proud to have sponsored a $25 million supplemental appropriation last year to help Public Works get their own fresh start post-pandemic, which included staffing up a new intensive cleaning crew for Chinatown. Thank you to Public Works Director Carla Short and the whole Public Works team for putting in extra hours to help Chinatown shine in advance of the Lunar New Year festivities.” 

Public Works’ annual New Year’s deep-cleaning and enhanced beautification efforts in Chinatown began last week and will continue throughout the month. 

Supporting Chinatown Merchants and Small Businesses 

The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), in partnership with Be Chinatown, a community organization that supports merchants and residents, organized a special program that allows neighborhood merchants to expand their merchandise displays onto the sidewalk during the bustling Chinese New Year season. To further its impact on the Chinatown economy, Mayor Breed, with Board President Aaron Peskin and Supervisor Chan, passed legislation that waived permit fees for participating and qualified merchants. Ambassadors from the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs will also be walking up and down Stockton Street to assist merchants.  

“The Year of the Dragon is a prospering year, and we invite residents and guests to celebrate the Lunar New Year by supporting the local businesses that represent the unique experiences and culture of San Francisco,” said Sarah Dennis Phillips, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “This Lunar New Year also ushers in small business legislation which will both strengthen existing businesses and invite new businesses. When we shop and dine at our local businesses we are investing in our community. Together, let us embrace the Dragon’s spirit, uplift our neighborhoods, and welcome a year of prosperity and joy.” 

OEWD and the Office of Small Business are promoting Lunar New Year events through their Shop Dine SF shop local campaign. Visit for more and follow @ShopDineSF on social media channels. 

SFMTA to Provide More Transit Options for Lunar New Year holiday season 

To facilitate a safe and welcoming celebration to visitors, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will offer free Muni rides on the day of the Lunar New Year Parade, excluding Cable cars. The SFMTA encourages the public to utilize Muni as the designated driver during the festivities.  

The Portsmouth Square Garage in Chinatown offers two-hour free parking during February to benefit those who drive into the area to shop, dine, and join events. 

“We’re excited to celebrate the Lunar New Year with free services to help people safely experience one of the City’s greatest cultural traditions,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin. “We are thankful for our City leaders for supporting these offers and proud to say that our support of Chinatown and Lunar New Year in San Francisco is strong as ever heading into the Year of the Dragon.” 

The Transit Ambassador Program, through the Community Youth Center, will also be extended during this time to welcome visitors to Chinatown, help them find their away around, and assist with neighborhood needs. 

"San Francisco has the oldest and largest Chinatown in North America, and I'm grateful to our police officers, public work crews, and City partners who are ensuring it is safe, clean and joyful as we usher in the Year of the Dragon," said City Attorney David Chiu. "We look forward to hosting visitors from near and far -- to eat, drink, shop and enjoy the largest Lunar New Year festivities outside of Asia." 

“Celebrations of Lunar New Year in San Francisco are renowned worldwide and unparalleled in the United States,” said Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres. “Together, with the community partners, we’re focused on beginning the auspicious Year of the Dragon with the power and good fortune it represents and ensuring our city is safe, clean and vibrant. I’m excited for San Francisco to come together, as residents and visitors, to embrace the strength of our diversity and welcome the Lunar New Year of 2024.” 

“The Chinese Chamber of Commerce expresses our pride in continuing to play a pivotal role in ensuring the Chinese New Year Parade and all the festivities during Lunar New Year are fun and safe,” said Wade Lai, President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. “My gratitude extends to Mayor Breed, our elected leaders, and various City departments for their diligent efforts in providing resources and support to our goal in making sure our Chinatown remains the best in the nation.”   

“Everyone at BeChinatown is excited to partner with Mayor Breed, Supervisor Peskin and OEWD on launching a novel program to support participating merchants on Stockton Street and throughout Chinatown,” said Lily Lo, Founder of BeChinatown. “As we collectively prepare ourselves for the arrival of the Year of the Dragon, this partnership represents our commitment to introducing a variety of new and exciting events to entice residents and visitors to this beloved neighborhood.”   

“Nothing brings greater joy to our leaders than witnessing the bustling streets and alleys in Chinatown with visitors and residents shopping, dining and having fun in Chinatown,” said Kelvin Tse, Presiding President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. “Through our partnerships with our City leaders and community-based organizations, the Year of the Wood Dragon will bring good luck, vibrancy and prosperity to the City of San Francisco and our community.”