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APEC shutdown worries San Francisco residents, business owners

Pedestrians walk along Fourth Street near Mission Street Wednesday, an area that will be blocked off to cars and public transit for APEC. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

San Francisco residents and business owners are worried about heightened security measures around the Moscone Center for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in November.

The massive global summit will be attended by world leaders from 21 countries, including President Joe Biden, and 30,000 visitors.

From Nov. 15 to 18, streets around the Moscone Center will be under a security perimeter, requiring residents who live within the secure zone to show ID to pass through if they're in a vehicle. If your driver's license or ID doesn't have your current address on it, you will need to show a secondary form of ID, like a utility bill, according to the U.S. Secret Service, which is in charge of security for the event.

Pedestrians will not be asked for identification or secondary forms of ID but will still need to go through security upon entering the area, a Secret Service spokesperson said.

The security perimeter around Moscone Center is bordered by Market, Harrison, Second and Fifth streets, with no public transit running through.

A map shows security restrictions around the Moscone Center for APEC between Nov. 15 and 18. Red lines indicate closed roads, while yellow dots mark vehicle checkpoints. Red dots show pedestrian checkpoints. | Source: SFGov/APEC/SFMTA

Vehicles that do not need to enter the perimeter for residential or business purposes will not be allowed in, APEC spokesperson Priya David Clemens said.

The pedestrian checkpoints will have metal detectors but no ID checks, Clemens said. Yerba Buena Gardens will also remain open to the public, she added.

In addition, there will be altered public transit routes to avoid the closed-off perimeter, highway off-ramp closures, a heightened law enforcement presence and beefed-up Coast Guard patrols in San Francisco Bay.

Other restrictions include:

  • Restrictions around Nob Hill's Fairmont Hotel, where the president will likely stay, will begin late Monday night, Nov. 13
  • Restrictions around the Exploratorium on Nov. 15 at noon
  • Street impacts around the Legion of Honor beginning Nov. 16 at noon
The facade of the Moscone convention center is glass and metal.
The Moscone Center will have a security perimeter around it for APEC. | Source: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Yerba Buena Gardens will remain open to the public during APEC, a spokesperson said. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

READ MORE: Feds Release Security Details for San Francisco’s APEC Summit, Including Central Subway Closure

The public should also expect parking restrictions. All vehicles parked in violation of the emergency "no parking" signs will be ticketed and towed. Notices will be posted at least 72 hours in advance of sign implementation. 

Here's a list of all 21 public transit lines being redirected around the security perimeter and a map of all detours for private car traffic.

See here for a map of all checkpoints during APEC.

‘It’s Ridiculous’

Michael Melendrez said he was surprised at how long the APEC security measures will last. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Michael and Erika Melendrez, who live outside the secured area and don’t have a car, said they were still surprised by the extent of the lockdown. 

Erika said she was shocked at the potential for local residents to be checked by security and the diverting of cars and transit.

“It’s ridiculous,” Erika said as she stepped into the Metreon Target store. “It seems so controlling.”

Michael said he was surprised at the length of the lockdown, which lasts from Nov. 15 through the evening of Nov. 18.

“I thought it’d be like a day.” Michael said. “That’s a long time.”

Virendra Narayan, who lives in the SoMa Square Apartments near Third and Folsom streets, said he is worried about not being able to use his car. He needs to drive because he’s older and has limited mobility and said he has a doctor’s appointment during APEC that may be difficult to reschedule.

“It’s going to make those [three] days more difficult,” Narayan said. “It’s a problem. I have to use my car.”

Virendra Narayan, a senior citizen with limited mobility, depends on his car to access food and medical care and is worried about the ban on driving inside the APEC security perimeter. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

To accommodate local businesses inside the perimeter, commercial and other deliveries will be allowed between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and must be screened at Pier 27 beforehand, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent-in-Charge Jeremy Brown said at an Oct. 18 press conference.

Businesses in the area told The Standard they had not received further details about how the APEC street closures would affect them, but many said that higher foot traffic from conference attendees is a boon for business.

READ MORE: APEC Anxiety Sweeps Chinatown as San Francisco Inspects, Shuts Down Restaurants

The Fogo de Chão Brazilian steakhouse, feet away from the Moscone Center, expects plenty of customers during APEC. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Daniel Bertolete, general manager of the Fogo de Chão Brazilian steakhouse on Third and Howard streets, said he has not been briefed by corporate about how APEC will affect his restaurant, but said he hopes his restaurant gets lots of customers, as it typically does during conferences at Moscone Center.

“We tend to do really well during conferences with 20,000 to 40,000 people, which is what’s happening right now,” Bertolete said as a waiter carried a tower of skewered grilled beef past. “And [APEC] is happening right across the street.”

It's not just restaurants near the conference that will be affected by the heightened security.

In recent weeks, inspectors from the San Francisco Department of Public Health have visited multiple Chinatown restaurants for routine inspections, shutting several down temporarily over health code violations and causing a panic wave in the community.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated restrictions around the Moscone Center would last for six days. New information from APEC organizers and the U.S. Secret Service says restrictions will last for three days between Nov. 15 and Nov. 18.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at garrett@sfstandard.com