SF small businesses in SoMa district concerned about losing customers during APEC Summit

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
SF small businesses in SoMA concerned about APEC Summit impact
Big disruptions and strict security measures are expected in downtown San Francisco in less than two weeks because of the upcoming APEC summit.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Big disruptions and strict security measures are expected in downtown San Francisco in less than two weeks because of the upcoming APEC summit.

The city says the conference could generate $53 million dollars for the local economy and draw up to 30,000 people.

But some small businesses South of Market are worried about losing customers.

MORE: President Biden to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during APEC summit in San Francisco

Bimal Shamra is picking up dozens of boxes from Bonchon Korean fried chicken inside the Metreon at Moscone Center.

The food delivery driver has plenty of drop-offs to make.

"Today, it's around 70 boxes....for four different offices," said Shamra.

In about two weeks, pickups and drop-offs will be much more difficult in and around SOMA because of the APEC Summit.

The security zone or so-called "exclusion zone" is between Market and Harrison, Second and Fifth.

MORE: APEC Summit tight security plans concern businesses in San Francisco SoMa District

The APEC Summit in SF is about three weeks away and the security plan has small businesses concerned about how it will impact patrons and workers.

Entry will be tightly restricted, possibly with metal detectors and wands.

And that worries Bonchon owner and operator Manuel Ramirez.

"Food delivery drivers won't come to our neighborhood, if they have come through a checkpoint and park outside of the perimeter," said Ramirez. "The city is encouraging us to stay open and they're encouraging us to travel to the area. But the logistics of that happening are not really realistic."

"It's going to be hard," said Mohammad Zughaiyir, owner of Oasis Grill on 4th Street and Howard, directly across the street from Moscone Center.

"In this case, if people cannot come here, I think the city should compensate us for losing this business," said Zughaiyir.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors urged Mayor London Breed to offer financial help to businesses hurt by the APEC summit.

Last week, the board voted unanimously to support Supervisor Connie Chan's resolution.

MORE: How intense APEC Summit security will impact SF roads, public transportation, and tourism

Officials say to expect a lot of security, road closures, and transit rerouting all over San Francisco from November 15-18 for the APEC Summit.

The resolution taps into some of the $10 million in public funds previously set aside to cover the city's logistical costs.

"I might do really well. I might not. It kind of depends on the built-on events for the delegates," said Sanchez.

John Eric Sanchez is the owner and operator of Executive Order Bar and Lounge on Mission Street several blocks from Moscone Center.

They open 7 days a week from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and sometimes as late as midnight. Sanchez wonders if local visitors will stay away given the extra security checks.

"I have told people we are still accessible if you are patient and willing to go through a screening process to enter the area. It will not be easy," said Sanchez.

Sanchez firmly believes the city needs to offer financial help to businesses if visitors stay away.

"To provide some sort of safety net for the city," said Sanchez. "But, from what we've been told, let's wait and see. That's not very reassuring."

MORE: SF gets ready to host APEC 2023, the 'Super Bowl of World Economies' in November

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit will draw leaders from 21 member economies to San Francisco in November.

In the mean time, Ramirez and other business owners hope the city could consider a voucher system.

"We are asking to the city and asking them to give a bit of a floor, for operations for the operators business impacted by APEC, to create a voucher system that links us directly to city volunteers and security at the event, to link us with local restaurants instead of normal per diem. We're hopeful that will happen," said Ramirez.

ABC7 News reached out to the Mayor's Office and Office of Economic Workforce. But it's not clear if financial assistance is a possibility.

The APEC Joint Information Center says they expect minimal impact to the businesses in the security zone.

San Francisco officials say it has been doing outreach to businesses in the impacted zone and will continue with further outreach and that any businesses or individuals with questions should contact 311.

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