APEC kicks off with high-profile events as traffic nightmares officially begin for SF commuters

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Monday, November 13, 2023
APEC tops off weekend with high-profile kickoff events
World leaders were bouncing from event to event Sunday city residents wondered how their daily routines were going to be affected during APEC.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It has started -- not just the long-awaited APEC summit but the traffic troubles.

San Francisco is welcoming world leaders, dignitaries and business leaders in the most significant global gathering in the city since the founding of the United Nations here in 1945.

World leaders were bouncing from event to event Sunday night, as the rest of the city wondered how their daily routines and work commutes are going to be affected during the week of APEC.

After months of planning, weeks of security detail briefings for the public, and lots of improvements around the city, we're taking a closer look at San Francisco as APEC kicks off.

Some people ABC7 News talked to were very much aware of the strict security and many detours expected this week for the APEC summit, while others had no idea about roadblocks.

"It already seems like it's going to be pretty packed. I'm going to avoid these streets as long as possible," said SF resident Brandon Reid.

Around Moscone Center, it's slow-and-go. Plenty of signs warn commuters of street closures in that area from Tuesday until Sunday.

Moscone Center will be ground zero for the APEC summit.

With nearly two-dozen heads of state, thousands of delegates and hundreds of foreign media here for the event, security is going to be top notch. So there will be a lot of delays and detours for commuters.

"It was kind of annoying trying to commute in and out of here," said SF resident Abdul Abozaid.

There are plenty of security gates up and a large law enforcement presence now in the APEC security zones. There are also frequent escorts heading to and from areas.

On Sunday night at City Hall, Mayor London breed offered a "Welcome to the APEC" business advisory council.

"I've been waiting for this moment for so long. For what this means, for not only SF, but what it means for the world," Breed said.

And after that, she was at the California Academy of Sciences -- that's where U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen hosted the Finance Ministers Gala. Secretary Yellen talked about the importance of APEC.

"From promoting inclusive and sustainable growth to supporting responsible innovation across our economies. And this is all to advance a shared vision of an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific region," Yellen said.

Rodney Fong, the CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, says APEC is a big win for the city of San Francisco.

"SF is putting its best foot forward," Fong said. "Everyone is sprucing things up. You see banners, lanterns, and lights on. We're absolutely ready."

And while APEC calls for big detours and delays like what people are seeing at the Embarcadero....

"It's as congested as I've ever seen it," said SF resident David Reid.

...Many also say, APEC is a great opportunity for the 'City by the Bay' to be engaged in critical global conversations about change.

"I think San Francisco is ready to be on stage this week. Conversations about economics, global sustainability -- all as we are in a complex time," Fong said.

While APEC runs through the end of the week, keep in mind the busiest days will likely be mid-week through Friday.

President Joe Biden is meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping on Wednesday.


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