Nov 21, 2023 - News

APEC yields mixed results with local businesses

Photo of London Breed speaking on the APEC stage

Mayor London Breed speaks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Week in San Francisco on Nov. 16. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit wrapped up over the weekend, and despite the protests that played out throughout the week, it's set to leave a lasting effect on the city — for better or worse.

Why it matters: The summit, which city officials estimated would bring around 20,000 people to San Francisco, was lauded as a game-changer as the city aims to combat narratives around crime and homelessness.

State of play: San Francisco sought to put on its best face for APEC. That included hosting a night market in Chinatown, organizing art walks and installing lasers that beamed across the city.

  • It also meant cleaning up the streets around Moscone Center, where the summit took place, and clearing nearby homeless encampments by opening a shelter with 300 additional beds.
  • Meanwhile, high-profile figures were spotted venturing out to local haunts — first lady Jill Biden at Teleferic Barcelona and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at Mixt (and In-N-Out), among others.
  • Bay Area organizations also spearheaded companion events to expand opportunities for local and overseas businesses to connect.
  • The summit ended with APEC members adopting new trade and investment principles bearing the city's name.

Yes, but: Restaurants and stores near Moscone Center saw dips in business during the summit due to high security zones that enforced checkpoints, fences and barriers.

  • While luxury hotels benefited from the influx of dignitaries, many small businesses are struggling to rebound and estimate upward of $150,000 in losses due to APEC.
  • The severity of the issue led the Board of Supervisors to previously vote to urge Mayor London Breed to compensate businesses impacted by APEC.
  • Nonetheless, some APEC attendees told the San Francisco Chronicle that they didn't feel safe leaving the security zone around Moscone Center. The city also made headlines after a Czech news crew was robbed at gunpoint while covering the event.

What to watch: Local officials have already touted the summit as a success for the city's image, but questions remain over the long-term maintenance of San Francisco streets.

  • Breed has said the city was able to clear streets more effectively for APEC because of a recent court ruling allowing workers to clear homeless encampments when people decline shelter offers.
  • "I think there are a lot of lessons learned during this week," Supervisor Connie Chan said in an interview with KRON4. San Francisco must ensure efficient, timely city services on a regular basis, "not just when it's a time like this."
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