Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District

The non-profit Fisherman’s Wharf Association provides an example of a CBD that was structured creatively to fit local needs. In 2005, business and property owners on the land side of the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood (south of Jefferson and The Embarcadero) formed the Fisherman’s Wharf CBD. The port side of the district is a key part of the neighborhood’s fabric, but, because businesses in that area of the Wharf are tenants (the Port of San Francisco owns the buildings), the Association needed to form a new CBD to manage the space. Today, the Fisherman’s Wharf Association manages both the land- and port-side CBDs, under a single Board.

Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District (Photo By Fisherman's Wharf Association) Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District (Photo By Fisherman's Wharf Association) Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District (Photo By Fisherman's Wharf Association)
Photos By Fisherman Wharf's Association

The CBDs provide a variety of services to districts properties, and many are shared. Shared services are paid for proportionately, based on the size of the contribution from each CBD. The Association’s shared marketing efforts have included designing a logo, lau
nching a website, and producing an annual visitor’s guide brochure. Efforts around activation and programming are also shared. The Association been involved in spearheaded and/or sponsoring a robust calendar of programs, including Fourth of July Waterfront Celebrations, Fleet Week, and Wharf Fest, which celebrates the neighborhood’s waterfront culture and cuisine.

Maintenance is a service that is not evenly shared between the two CBDs. The Association operates an Ambassador program, which provides 3 full-time staff people from 8am-8pm to focus on cleaning (including trash pick-up), safety, and quality of life issues, such as outreach to homeless individuals. The Ambassadors assist with safety and quality of life work in both CBD areas, but provide cleaning services for the land-side district only. Land-side maintenance work also includes sidewalk steam cleaning and graffiti abatement. Port-side businesses benefit from maintenance services provided by the Port of San Francisco and therefore do not obtain these service from the Association.

To advance its mission, the Association operates 5 active volunteer committees. These committees are led by Chair persons who are members of the Association’s board, but they are also open to participation from community members who want to get involved. The Association’s committees focus on: Street Operations, Beautification and Order Committee (SOBO), Marketing, Transportation, Sustainability, and Pier Safety. The committees work on a number of issues important to CBD members, including setting policies around tour bus circulation, spearheading pedestrian wayfinding campaigns, and providing leadership around emergency preparedness, and crime and safety.

Though exact numbers vary by year, the bulk of the Fisherman’s Wharf Association’s work is funded by special assessment revenue. The Association also engages in fundraising to support activities, and leverages in-kind donations and sponsorships. The Association also pursues grant funding for special programs and initiatives.

Primary Model Type

Special Assessment Districts


San Francisco, CA


Fisherman's Wharf Association

Budget Range

Cost to set-up: $$$$$

Manager resource level: $$$$$