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Author: Alfredo Casuso

Joint IDF, ISA and Israel Police Statement

Joint IDF, ISA and Israel Police Statement:

This morning (Saturday, 8 June) in a joint IDF, ISA and Israel Police (Yamam) complex special daytime operation in Nuseirat, four Israeli hostages were rescued. Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrey Kozlov (27), and Shlomi Ziv (40), were kidnapped by the Hamas terrorist organization from the ‘Nova’ music festival on October 7th.

The hostages were rescued by the IDF, ISA and ‘Yamam’ forces from two separate locations in the heart of Nuseirat.

They are in good medical condition and have been transferred to the ‘Sheba’ Tel-HaShomer Medical Center for further medical examinations.

The security forces will continue to make every effort to bring the hostages home.

Below: short biographies of the freed hostages.

Noa Argamani, a 26-year-old from Be’er Sheva, was kidnapped from the NOVA festival along with her boyfriend, Avinatan Or. Avinatan remains in Hamas captivity. Noa is a yoga and art enthusiast who enjoys hiking. She was studying Information Systems Management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. 

Almog Meir Jan, a 22-year-old from Or Yehuda, was kidnapped from the NOVA festival. He was supposed to start a job at a large high-tech company the next day. Almog is a beloved son who connects with everyone through his wide, warm smile. He is always polite and helpful to all, cherished wherever he goes.

Shlomi Ziv, a 41-year-old from Moshav Elkosh, was kidnapped from the NOVA festival, where he worked as a security guard. Shlomi and his wife, Miren, have been living in the moshav for about 17 years. A family-oriented man, Shlomi is always the first to help and take action with a big heart, embodying the perfect description of a ‘big brother’.

Andrey Kozlov, a 27-year-old resident of Rishon LeZion, was kidnapped from the NOVA festival, where he was working as a security guard. Andrey is a recent immigrant to Israel, having made aliyah by himself, without his family, about a year and a half ago.

Design concepts for a reimagined Powell Street

Media Contact: DP&A, Inc. / David Perry (415) 676-7007 / 



Accredited members of the media are invited to review design concepts for a reimagined Powell Street via Zoom by Union Square Alliance and designers Field Operations and Sitelab ahead of a public open-house unveiling scheduled for Wednesday, June 12 between 4pm – 7pm at 111 Powell Street. 

Monday, June 10: 9am – 10am

Online: To receive a Zoom link, members of the media must pre-register by emailing A link to the presentation will be distributed 1 hour prior to the press conference.  By RSVPing to this online event, you acknowledge and accept the embargo as stated.

Marisa Rodriguez, CEO, Union Square Alliance, Richard Kennedy, Partner, Field Operations, Laura Crescimano, Co-Founder, Sitelab Urban Studio.  Accredited press can schedule an interview with any of the presenters between 10 am and noon on June 10th. 

At the heart of the City, Powell Street represents the essence of San Francisco, making it a central hub, a destination, and a nexus of urban life. For some, it is the path to work; for others, it is the entry point to theaters, shopping, entertainment, and nightlife. It is also a starting point for connecting with the city’s rich history, stunning topography, panoramic vistas, and vibrant waterfront. For all it’s the gateway to San Francisco.  Early this year, the Union Square Alliance selected Field Operations and Sitelab Urban Studio to produce a beautiful, durable, and cost-effective design that will help restore Powell Street to the iconic status it deserves.  After several months of design exploration and collaboration with Union Square stakeholders, it is time to unveil the design concepts. 

SF Mayor Breed Unveils Action Plan to Enliven Union Square and Yerba Buena Districts

Contact: Mayor’s Press Office,

SF Mayor Breed Unveils Action Plan to Enliven Union Square and Yerba Buena Districts

The plan is a component to the Mayor’s broader Budget that prioritizes continued investment in revitalization efforts to reimagine San Francisco’s premier retail and hospitality district 

4 June 2024 – San Francisco, CA: Mayor London N. Breed today released an action plan that will focus on new and continued investments to revitalize the City’s hospitality, entertainment, arts and culture, retail and tourism areas (HEART) in premier retail and hospitality districts of Union Square and Yerba Buena. 

The action plan contains a series of specific actions supported by legislation and public funding, including new investments in the Mayor’s proposed budget that will be led by the Office of Economic and Workforce and Development (OEWD). 

The Union Square and Yerba Buena neighborhoods are a destination for almost half of all visitor travel to San Francisco, home to half of the City’s hotel rooms, over 3.5 million square feet of retail space and numerous museums, theaters and performance venues which celebrate San Francisco’s renowned arts and culture. Union Square Park and Yerba Buena Gardens offer iconic public spaces for people to gather and celebrate, and the area is well served by transit, home to the Powell Street BART and Muni station, historic Powell/Hyde cable car lines, and two new Central Subway stations offering rail connections from Chinatown to Mission Bay and the southeast.    

Challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have both heightened and accelerated many trends, including the changing nature of retail and a shift to online shopping. These ongoing changes, combined with hybrid work, suburban competition, and a protracted recovery in tourism, have impacted the number of workers and visitors downtown, leading to storefront vacancies and declining foot traffic. Still, the number of new openings is outpacing the rate of closures happening in the Union Square and Yerba Buena neighborhoods.  

The Mayor’s action plan is designed to counter these trends and leverage positive ones like new restaurant and retail openings and civic events. 

“San Francisco is in the midst of a shift and the momentum we’re seeing is exciting for the City, but we have more work to do including how we reimagine the evolution of Union Square and Yerba Buena neighborhoods,” said Mayor London Breed. “San Francisco is 100% committed to investing in creative ways to bring more fun and options to the City’s most trafficked destinations that draw people from across the City and around the world. We thank our community partners who are working with us on a stronger, more vibrant San Francisco.”  

“The Union Square & Yerba Buena neighborhoods are often the first stop for visitors and tourists; they should be a center of activity for residents as well,” said Sarah Dennis Phillips, Executive Director for the Office of Economic Workforce and Development. “These actions and investments will help make that visit a top-notch experience, yielding ongoing returns in visitation and economic development over the long-term.” 

Building on Mayor Breed’s Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future, this Action Plan will address these challenges head-on, through the following key initiatives and investments:  

Create Bustling Public Spaces: 

  • Reimagine Powell Street, including the Powell Cable Car turnaround, to serve as a premier retail and hospitality destination, and pursue public space improvements on Hallidie Plaza and Maiden Lane. 
  • Pursue the establishment of additional entertainment zones, which allow restaurants and bars to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption during outdoor events and activations, to bring vibrancy to the streets. 
  • Make Union Square Park a lively destination at all times with a robust year-round calendar of daily public events and activations for everyone to enjoy. 
  • Continue successful marquee events that are bringing thousands of people into the area such as Winter Walk, Union Square in Bloom, UNDCSVRD block parties and SF Live concerts. 

Build Active and Vibrant Storefronts:

  • Develop a Vacant to Vibrant program for the unique conditions of Powell Street, matching new businesses with empty storefronts as longer-term pop-ups. 
  • Implement a small business and activation plan that fosters a burgeoning Filipino business district and cultural hub in Yerba Buena by cultivating small businesses, entrepreneurs, and events. 
  • Launch a Powell Street Marketing and Leasing Campaign to generate leasing success for the corridor as a whole.   
  • Provide direct leasing support for small businesses and high touch permit navigation and support for food, beverage, retail, and entertainment establishments.  
  • Work directly with building owners and tenants to support existing stores, like Macy’s Union Square.  

Ensure Downtown is Clean, Safe, and Easy to Navigate: 

  • Launch 24/7 neighborhood-based security presence to ensure a consistent, visible safety presence reinforced by proactive intervention and crisis response support.  
  • Continue the Downtown successful Welcome Ambassadors program to guide tourists with wayfinding, business recommendations, and other services. 
  • Continue enhanced SFPD foot patrol and mobile command unit, and the Safe Shopper and targeted retail theft campaigns. 
  • Illuminate key pedestrian passages to connect visitor destinations and build an enhanced sense of place with overhead lighting. 
  • Transform vacant or inactive street-level exterior spaces into visually appealing spaces. 
  • Provide reduced-cost parking in the key City parking garages like Union Square, Ellis-O’Farrell and 5th & Mission to attract regional and local visitors to shop, dine, and patronize area theaters and museums. 

Develop Lively, Mixed-Use Upper Floors:

  • Build upon recent zoning changes that allow flexibility on upper floors in Union Square and making it easier and faster to convert commercial buildings to housing. 
  • Work with local and state leaders on legislation to provide financial incentives and permit streaming for new construction and adaptive reuse projects.     

“Union Square is the heart of San Francisco, and the city’s overall prosperity hinges on its success. As Union Square transitions into its next chapter, our community requires a comprehensive partnership with the City to move forward,” said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of the Union Square Alliance. “Mayor Breed’s latest initiatives address several critical needs for our community, including enhanced public safety measures, convenient access for shoppers and visitors, and resources to attract new shops, restaurants, and experiences. With these investments, we are confident that the heartbeat of our city will remain strong and vibrant, supporting San Francisco’s overall allure for years to come.” 

“The City of San Francisco funds a myriad of programs to see SOMA Pilipinas thrive. From street activations to arts acceleration, to small business incubation, and provide free space for our community to gather and thrive,” said Desi Danganan Executive Director Kultivate Labs. “The support the Filipino Cultural district in San Francisco receives is the envy of the nation because the City believes in the impact and innovation of community lead strategies. The net results are an emerging renaissance of new Filipino businesses filling empty storefronts in SoMa choosing to make San Francisco their home base.” 

“We need partnerships between neighbors, civic organizations and the city to improve the narrative about our downtown and spur interest, economic activity and community well-being,” said Scott Rowitz, Executive Director of the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District. “This funding is a sound investment to help revitalize downtown and shore up the incredible array of arts, cultural and commercial attractions that extend from Yerba Buena to Union Square. By enhancing the street level experience through a combination of beautification, safety and community programs, we will help to attract new businesses, strengthen existing businesses and create vibrant hubs that engage workers, residents and visitors.”

“Union Square and the Yerba Buena Gardens area make up the beating heart of our city, and they are critical to our economic recovery,” said Chris Meany, Managing Partner of Wilson Meany and a prominent business leader who was instrumental in bringing several San Francisco institutions back to life, including the Ferry Building and Treasure Island, and who has helped inform efforts for Union Square’s recovery. “These historically vibrant districts are critical to bringing shoppers and conventions to the City, filling our hotels and activating our downtown.”  

“I’m thrilled that these investments will be made to ensure my business has a chance to recover and thrive once more,” said Lauren Ellis, owner of CK Contemporary Gallery. “Prioritizing a safe, vibrant and accessible Powell Street supports local business like mine, creates jobs for our residents, and gives tourists arriving downtown the first impression of our beautiful city that they deserve.” 

This plan will be supported by legislation and public funding, including already dedicated funding that is delivering results, $15 million in new investments in the Mayor’s upcoming budget, and from a $390 million bond measure for a healthy and vibrant San Francisco proposed for the November ballot. Its impact will be expanded by additional investments in the broader Downtown, including more funding for successful programs like Vacant to Vibrant, the Storefront Opportunities Grant to further fill ground floor vacancies, and the SF Shines grant program to support existing businesses.

For more information about Mayor Breed’s Union Square and Yerba Buena Action Plan, please visit this page.


Union Square SF Nintento Statement

Union Square SF Nintento Statement

“Nintendo’s decision to launch its second U.S. store in San Francisco’s iconic Union Square is a powerful testament to the district’s resurgence and strategic significance,” said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of the Union Square Alliance. “This exciting addition heralds a new era in retail experiences, blending family-friendly fun with the cutting-edge spirit of San Francisco’s renowned gaming and technology sectors. By choosing Union Square, Nintendo reaffirms the district’s status as a premier destination, joining 32 other businesses, including Breitling, Miller & Lux Provisions, and Chotto Matte, that have also chosen to establish themselves in Union Square since 2022.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng Sign Memorandum of Understanding Renewing Sister City Relationship

Contact: Mayor’s Press Office,

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng Sign Memorandum of Understanding Renewing Sister City Relationship

Yesterday’s signing renews a strong Sister City relationship between the U.S. and China that was established 45 years ago  

22 May 2024 San Francisco, CA: Mayor London N. Breed yesterday welcomed Mayor Gong Zheng and a Shanghai delegation to City Hall to celebrate the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between both cities as part of the 45th anniversary of the San Francisco Shanghai Sister City Relationship. Dating back to 1979, San Francisco led the nation by establishing the first-ever diplomatic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, ushered by then Mayor Dianne Feinstein.  

During yesterday’s visit, both Mayors signed the Sister City agreement to reemphasize the commitments between San Francisco and Shanghai, and to advance mutually beneficial economic opportunities and cultural exchange efforts, including exploring possibilities for student exchange programs and tourism promotion.  

Shanghai Mayor Gong and his delegation’s visit to San Francisco comes on the heels of Mayor Breeds’ trip to China in April, when she led a San Francisco delegation on a multi-city visit throughout China, including Shanghai. The purpose of the Mayor’s trip focused on cultivating tourism and economic growth opportunities and bolstering diplomatic relations to strengthen cultural ties across the region in China.

“As the gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, San Francisco has a rich history with deeply rooted cultural ties to Chinese and Chinese American cultures. By signing this agreement, we are honoring the heritage of many in our City and reemphasizing the importance of cultural exchanges that San Francisco remains committed to as we advance partnerships from around the world,” said Mayor London Breed. “When our San Francisco delegation visited Shanghai, Mayor Gong, residents, and leaders extended genuine hospitality and we look forward to having the opportunity to extend the same in return as we work together to strengthen the ties between the two cities.”

“Shanghai and San Francisco have jointly signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on friendly exchange and cooperation,” said Mayor Gong Zheng. “Heralding a new phase of practical collaboration between the two cities. We see this as an opportunity to further strengthen cooperation with San Francisco in areas such as technology, innovation, mutual investment, and urban governance. Additionally, we aim to advance youth exchanges between the two cities, fostering a higher level of mutually beneficial development.”

Over the years, the San Francisco Shanghai Sister City partnership has seen more than 200 collaborative projects across various sectors. Notable events include “Shanghai Week in SF” and “SF Week in Shanghai.” The relationship has also facilitated interactions with future Chinese leaders and played a key role in San Francisco’s participation in the Shanghai Expo 2010.

In addition to the Shanghai delegation, among those present at yesterday’s event were members of the recent San Francisco delegation to China, and San Francisco’s Chinese community leaders who seized the opportunity to welcome and greet one another at a reception hosted by Mayor Breed and Chief of Protocol Maryam Muduroglu.

“The signing of this momentous Memorandum of Understanding further strengthens the two sister cities’ future of mutual growth, cultural exchange, and business collaboration,” said Daphne Fang, Chair of the San Francisco Sister City Committee. “The participation of San Francisco high school youth in Friendship summer camps in Shanghai will enhance cultural understanding and friendship, echoing across borders and generations. The San Francisco – Shanghai Sister City Committee will continue our dedication and unwavering commitment to fostering the enduring relationship between our two greatest cities.”

“Shanghai and San Francisco are pivotal cities in establishing Sister City relations between China and the United States,” said Zhang Jianmin, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco. “Effective cooperation across various fields has consistently placed them at the forefront of efforts to develop China-U.S relations. The mutual visits of the two mayors within a span of less than two months are a concrete implementation of the important consensus reached during the China-U.S. leaders’ meeting in San Francisco, advancing the “San Francisco Vision” into tangible actions. It is believed that this visit will further promote local exchanges and cooperation, making positive contributions to the stable, healthy, and sustainable development of China-US relations.”

This Sister City relationship, founded during Mayor Diane Feinstein’s tenure, followed the normalization of U.S.- China diplomatic relations in the late 1970s. Feinstein led a delegation to Beijing and Shanghai, where she and then Shanghai Mayor, Wang Daohan, agreed on the establishment of this long-lasting relationship. The formal agreement was signed in early 1980, following U.S. President Carter’s announcement of official diplomatic ties.

In July, 10 high school students from across San Francisco will participate in summer educational exchanges in Shanghai to promote friendship and foster cross-cultural understanding between the two cities.