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Oracle convention pulls out of SF over ‘street conditions’

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The tech giant cites hotel costs and homeless crisis

A glass-enclosed pedestrian bridge leading into the second story of a broad building with lettering out front reading “Moscone Center.” Photo by Brock Keeling

Open World, the huge annual conference staged by Redwood City-based computer giant Oracle, will not come back to San Francisco—or at least not for the next three years, as organizers site, among other things, the condition of SF streets.

CNBC cites an email from the San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA, a private nonprofit dedicated to driving SF’s tourism business) stating that Oracle will not return to the city.

Although the primary motivation was financial—San Francisco hotels evidently cost more than convention goers can afford —the message also cites “poor street conditions,” an ambiguous but telling phrase.

Oracle’s 2019 Open World took place at Moscone Center, which the convention has called home for years, in September. The conference cited high-end hotels for convention goers like the Grand Hyatt and Hilton’s Parc 55, but offered discounted rates.

Instead, they’ll now decamp to Las Vegas for the 2020 through 2022 conferences. SFTA estimates that some that some 62,000 “room nights” stem from the conference.

SFTA has fretted for years that San Francisco’s homeless crisis and chronically frayed streets have constricted tourism and convention business.

Tourists “wonder why does one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest states have streets that look like this,” association CEO Joe D’Alessandro asked in 2018. “Why are there people living on the streets?”

Despite these concerns, SFTA’s own numbers show San Francisco breaking records for tourism, with an estimated 25.8 million visitors last year.

“This is the ninth consecutive year that we are able to report record-breaking outcomes for San Francisco’s tourism industry,” D’Alessandro said in March.

The association did report that hotel occupancy was down a bit (1.4 percent), but chalked that up to the loss of Moscone Center and the convention business, which had not yet reopened at the time.

Prior to the Open World news, the travel group predicted hotel use will rise 1.2 percent this year off the strength of Moscone Center returns.