In the lead-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, the city has undertaken significant efforts to address issues of homelessness, drug addiction, and crime, particularly in the downtown areas designated for the international event. Reports suggest that the homeless population, drug addicts, and dealers have seemingly vanished from certain sections of the city, as officials focus on cleaning up the streets and creating a more secure environment for the summit.
The city’s approach has involved clearing tents and increasing police presence in areas like the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, known for concentrated encampments and drug-related activities. However, critics argue that these measures amount to a temporary solution, merely displacing the issues rather than providing lasting resolutions to the longstanding problems. Residents and business owners express concerns that once the APEC summit concludes, the problems may resurface.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has faced criticism for what some perceive as a reactive approach rather than a comprehensive, long-term strategy. Some residents, like SoMa business owner Adam Mesnick, point out the temporary housing solutions offered during the summit as insufficient, emphasizing the need for permanent, effective measures to address the city’s homelessness and drug crisis.
— New York Post (@nypost) November 11, 2023
The city’s focus on clearing specific areas, including the vicinity of the Moscone Center on Howard Street and the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building, has led to visible changes. Security measures, such as fencing off problematic zones, aim to ensure the safety of residents and employees returning to work in previously troubled areas. However, skeptics argue that these actions may only provide a short-lived illusion of improvement.
Emails obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle reveal the city’s meticulous planning for the APEC summit, with officials discussing the clearance of historical encampments near priority areas. Questions about new encampments and the need for a comprehensive plan demonstrate a concerted effort to create a secure environment for the international event.
How absurd is it that people have been complaining about the homeless problem for years in San Francisco with the government doing absolutely nothing about it, and then the moment Xi Jinping and Biden are having a summit there, they miraculously disappear and everything is… pic.twitter.com/buWocoBwXt
— Inversionism (@Inversionism) November 12, 2023
Despite these efforts, the city grapples with a persistent fentanyl-related drug overdose crisis, contributing to a record-breaking year of fatal overdoses. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports that San Francisco is on track to reach 800 deaths this year, with an average of two fatal overdoses per day, primarily attributed to fentanyl.