Just in time for a U.S.-China summit this coming week, Fox News reports that the city has suddenly cleaned up its act.
In preparation for the summit to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and the current occupant of the White House, Joe Biden, homeless encampments throughout the city have been removed. For his part, Gavin Newsom attempted to claim this sudden cleanup had nothing to do with the summit.
“I know folks are saying, ‘Oh, they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town.’ That’s true because it’s true–but it’s also true for months and months before APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit], we’ve been having conversations,” Newsom said Friday while attending the announcement of a new program to plant trees in urban neighborhoods.
The sudden cleanup of San Francisco is reminiscent of what occurred in El Paso, Texas, earlier this year, when the plethora of illegal aliens camped on that city’s streets was removed ahead of a visit from Biden…an El Paso miracle.
In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed told KTVU that the conference could add an estimated $53 million to the Bay Area economy, adding that “tourism is our business here in San Francisco.”
Efforts by city and state officials have led, KTVU noted, to “noticeable” cleanliness on city streets, as well as far fewer homeless encampments on major city thoroughfares. The sudden disappearance of thousands of homeless individuals was not lost on some city residents, including Marc Savino, who told KTVU that “you just naturally start to wonder about houseless folks being displaced.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s superintendent of Street Environmental Services, Christopher McDaniels, was “concerned about historical encampments that are close to priority areas.”
The Chronicle identified those areas as seven intersections in two neighborhoods that have been the “epicenter” of the homeless crisis. The city’s deputy director of operations, DiJaida Durden, noted San Francisco must “stay on top of the growing encampments,” asking if “we have a plan?”
Miraculously, areas Durden identified were suddenly “tent-free” only days before the APEC summit.
The summit between Biden and Xi is the first time they’ve met face-to-face since last November. It also comes as tensions in the Middle East have flared after Hamas invaded Israel, killing over 1,400 Israelis in a series of brutal attacks. Also, there is the backdrop of Taiwan, which China still believes is its territory and which the United States has vowed to defend from Chinese aggression.
Meanwhile, the city of San Francisco, which has suffered through a shortage of tourism due to its reputation as the homeless capital of California, hopes the summit will inject life into its sluggish post-COVID economic recovery.
Fox Digital wrote that several other factors have affected the city, including more work-from-home opportunities and the upcoming implementation of a significant raise in the minimum wage for fast food workers. The New York Times identified the loss of tech commuters as a considerable barrier to the city’s economic recovery.
The current economic situation in San Francisco has been around for a while. In the past, the large number of people coming into the city for events such as the summit has served to kick-start the city’s economy, Aaron Peskin, president of the city’s Board of Supervisors, said.
Some, however, are suspicious of the city’s sudden ability to put a mask on its homeless issue.
“They’ve cleared out the tents that were near the Moscone Center on Howard Street, which tells me the city had the capability to do this all along–instead, they just do the bare minimum,” activist Ricci Lee told The New York Post.
“Once APEC is gone, police presence will start to simmer down again, the tents will return, and it will slowly flare up again,’ Lee said. “What we need is a permanent solution.”