In recent remarks posted to social media, Governor Gavin Newsom is justifying the removal of homeless camps and public drug markets in San Francisco just before an international economic summit with world leaders including China’s President Xi Jinping this week.
APEC, recognized as the “Super Bowl of World Economies,” is hosting its 2023 leaders meeting in San Francisco from November 11 to 17 this year. The summit brings together leaders from 21 countries and regions, such as President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and leading CEOs, among tens of thousands of other participants.
Efforts to clean up the city began in October. The APEC venues were fenced off and officials relocated homeless encampments. City workers also removed graffiti and trash from the streets and placed decorative pieces near San Francisco’s Market Street, The New York Times reported.
A federal injunction mandates the city to offer suitable shelter for homeless individuals following the clearance of their tents from public spaces. While the city did not establish new shelters exclusively for those affected by the international summit, it did open a 30-spot overnight winter shelter and has undertaken efforts to expand bed capacity by 300 in certain existing shelters.
Newsom is not cleaning up the city to benefit its residents or to improve the city’s livability in any way. Rather, he admitted that he is cleaning the city due to the publicity that the summit will bring. “I know folks say, ‘they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming into town’ – because it’s true,” Newsom said.
“Anytime you put on an event — by definition — you know you have people over at your house, you’re gonna clean up the house,” he continued.
Several Republicans are rightfully condemning Newsom for this move. “Why do they roll out the “red”carpet for China but can’t be bothered to clean up and remove encampments for their own citizens? It’s a slap in the face. Gavin and SF Dems should be ashamed of themselves,” wrote Assemblyman James Gallagher on X.
Similarly, Senator Scott Wilk wrote, “But the ‘CA Way’ is on full display in San Francisco. Isn’t that something to be proud of? Proof that action to cleanup our state can happen overnight. So, where’s the will to get it done for Californians?”
Political leaders from around the country are even commenting on Newsom’s decision to clean up the city for a visiting dictator rather than his own constituents. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem wrote, “In Gavin Newsom’s California, all it takes is a visit from a Chinese Communist Party leader for them to clean up San Francisco’s streets. In South Dakota, we won’t be rolling out the red carpet for Xi Jinping.”
San Francisco has grappled with a serious homelessness and drug crisis, coupled with escalating crime, for several years. Despite ongoing efforts, the city has faced challenges in addressing the humanitarian crisis unfolding on its streets.
The homelessness situation has been exacerbated in recent years, with approximately 38,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area on any given night—an increase of 35% since 2019. San Francisco, specifically, has over 7,000 homeless residents, and the city’s downtown has witnessed a surge in crime rates and open-air drug use, prompting businesses to relocate.
Rather than finding a permanent solution to San Francisco’s rampant crime and homelessness, Newsom is covering up the problem with a temporary band-aid simply to impress foreign leaders.
There is no need to create an illusion of prosperity in California cities for foreign dictators. There is a need, however, to provide real, long-term solutions for California taxpayers who deal with these issues daily.