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Here’s where APEC will lock down San Francisco

Automobiles drive by Moscone West in San Francisco on Tuesday. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

A security perimeter aimed at protecting world leaders and delegates descending on San Francisco for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November will lead to road closures, rerouting of transit lines and limited pedestrian access in some areas of the South of Market neighborhood.

Three sources with knowledge of the evolving security plans told The Standard that preliminary plans for a security perimeter around Moscone Center—the central site for the conference—include the area bordered by Market Street, Harrison Street, Second Street and Fifth Street from Nov. 12-18. 

Inside the perimeter, termed an “exclusion zone,” roadway access will be limited to government vehicles, and flight patterns overhead will be adjusted. The U.S. Coast Guard will step up patrols on the San Francisco Bay, and security staffing in and around the area will be beefed up. 

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Vehicles drive through the intersection of Fourth and Mission streets, a few blocks from Moscone West, where the APEC CEO Summit will be happening in November. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

Muni's Central Subway has a stop in the planned security zone, and numerous bus lines also run through the area. It’s unclear exactly how the enhanced security will impact service. 

As currently conceived, there will be layers of security within the protected zone. Pedestrians will be allowed in the outer belt of the perimeter, but a center area around Moscone and Yerba Buena Gardens will require authorized passes. 

A separate security perimeter will be put in place around the Nob Hill hotel where U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to stay for the event, leading to potential additional traffic and mass transit disruptions in the area. 

A rendering shows the approximate plans for a security zone around the Moscone Center. | Lu Chen/The Standard

Two cable car lines—the California and the Powell & Mason routes—run across the top of Nob Hill. 

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials did not say how transit lines in both zones would be impacted, but they claimed to have a robust plan to manage the traffic and transit issues. 

Mayor London Breed’s office did not respond to a request for comment by publication time. 

A group of federal officials, including representatives from the U.S. State Department and the Secret Service, will travel to the city this week to meet with local authorities and finalize details about the security perimeter. 

Cars drive by Moscone West in San Francisco on Tuesday. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

Businesses within the perimeter may be subject to limits on their operations and activities during the event. 

Priya Clemens, a media liaison for APEC’s host committee, said that the Office of Small Business and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development have begun outreach efforts to local businesses on opportunities as well as potential interruptions as a result of the event. 

“The security perimeter has not been determined by the federal government yet, but the City will work with businesses leading up to and during APEC,” Clemens said in a statement. 

The federal government has declared the APEC conference a "National Special Security Event,” a designation that underlines the potential for a terrorist attack or major civil disruption.  

The designation—the first of its kind in Northern California—means the Secret Service will head up security planning for the event, which is expected to draw top leaders from around 21 nations. The agency has been tasked with security planning duties, ranging from protection against potential sea and air attacks from drones and manned aircraft to setting up committees to coordinate local, state and federal authorities.

The famed Fairmont Hotel on San Francisco's Nob Hill caters to a wealthy clientele. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

Security measures could include increased numbers of police and even National Guard personnel, bomb-detecting dogs, surveillance and sharpshooters. Authorities will also take measures to detect and mitigate weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical agents or dirty bombs. 

APEC was started in 1989 to convene regular gatherings largely focused on international trade; member countries are mostly Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, Japan, China, Australia and South Korea. The main APEC event is known as Leaders Week, a gathering of heads of state and other government officials.

Overlapping with that event is the CEO Summit Nov. 14-16 at Moscone Center West, which attracts top executives from major international firms.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at
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