SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — APEC is bad for business, according to small business owners in San Francisco. One SF bar owner estimates a six-figure loss in revenue from the summit, saying would-be customers are avoiding the area because of strict security measures that have fenced off some streets and sidewalks.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office insists that APEC is a short-term inconvenience that will bring long-term business to San Francisco.
Law enforcement is swarming downtown San Francisco as the conference stretches into its fifth day. From SF County Sheriff’s deputies to secret service, they’ve been called on to protect high-profile government leaders from around the world.
Areas like Mission Street at New Montgomery have checkpoints set up where bags are screened for entry. People have to navigate closed streets and barricaded sidewalks. Rideshares are surcharging while dropping passengers off blocks away from their intended destinations.
Between the roadway woes and protesters looking to capture the attention of powerful visitors, it’s been bad for some businesses like Novela Bar in SOMA. The business partners behind the bar say that between their three San Francisco bars, they are losing about $200,000 in revenue due to cancellations for pre-booked parties among other reasons.
“There’s almost no foot traffic in our area, it is definitely tight security in this area. And also the companies, that are typically the companies and the workers in our area that would typically come here for happy hour they are also working from home,” said Novela partner Arash G.
He says he had to cut staff hours due to the conference. He wrote a letter to the mayor’s office requesting financial compensation. Mayor Breed said nothing has been decided on but calls this a short-term setback for a long-term economic boost with APEC putting the city in the sights of global players.
“And we’re going to do what we can to support our small businesses,” Mayor Breed said. “But we haven’t made a clear decision as to what that might be because we need to understand the realities of what people are actually facing and whether or not there is a way to support them.”
David Rafael who has owned a clothing store Market Street for 35 years has never seen anything like this. He also complained about the tight security tightening purse strings, but admitted one big benefit was cleaner streets.
He says instead of giving money to locals for lost revenue, he’d rather the city pay to maintain the peak cleanliness seen during the APEC summit.
“That would be nice, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think they should put more effort into cleaning up the streets and taking care of the homeless and getting rid of drugs,” said Rafael. “That would be more productive way of spending money rather than paying businesses for a week.”
The mayor’s office says it has promoted self-guided tours ahead of APEC to encourage visitors to stop by businesses in the areas where delegates are gathering.