Editor’s note: The article previously misstated that there were going to be road closures on the Golden Gate Bridge. The story has been updated to reflect those changes.
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Traffic gridlock in San Francisco is about to become atrocious.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit — which begins on Saturday and continues through next week — will draw in a crowd of 20,000 and trigger a massive number of city street closures.
On top of the APEC summit, Mother Nature has big plans on deck. A wet November storm is forecast to drench the Bay Area on Tuesday and Wednesday. Drivers will be funneled around road closures while simultaneously navigating on rain-slick pavement.
The Moscone Center and Fairmont Hotel will be ground zero for APEC events, inconvenient road closures, protests, VIPs requiring high security, and traffic. The Embarcadero and Nob Hill will also be a mess.
The city created a confusing road closure and security zone map for the public on its website.
Before drivers can even reach SF from Marin County or the East Bay, they will likely be snarled in heavy bridge traffic. That’s because Caltrans is closing some lanes on the Bay Bridge for four days.
The U.S. Secret Service and White House ordered San Francisco to enforce security measures to protect U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Biden and Xi will attend the APEC summit and meet face-to-face.
This is the first time a National Special Security Event event has ever occurred in San Francisco. The mayor’s office wrote, “The Economic Leaders’ Meeting holds a NSSE designation between November 15 and 18, which allows the federal government to fully implement event security and incident management plans to ensure the safety of all event participants and residents.”
On Thursday, drivers experienced an unwelcomed preview of what next week will be like. Car horns honked by angry drivers blared along 4th Street between Mission and Howard streets due to an unannounced road closure. The one-block stretch of road is a main artery to southbound Highway 101. It was closed for eight hours Thursday so that crews could set up security fencing near the Moscone Center.
The domino impact was obvious. Some drivers said it took nearly an hour to crawl just a few blocks. One frustrated motorist told KRON4, “It’s ridiculous. You are going one block, one block! And I am still not through that block.”
“San Francisco is ready to host APEC and welcome the international community to our City,” Mayor London Breed said Thursday. “We know with an event of this magnitude that there will be impacts for our residents. We will continue to communicate about street closures and any other impacts that arise. But this is a major moment for San Francisco to shine on the world stage and we are excited and ready.”
San Francisco activated its Emergency Operations Center to handle communication and coordination.
“APEC is a globally significant and historic event for our city and an event of this magnitude comes with special security and logistical considerations,” said Department of Emergency Management executive director Mary Ellen Carroll.
The theme of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Week 2023 is “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.”
This weekend, APEC protesters will be out in droves downtown. Protests will be held to “expose APEC’s false solutions,” and demand world leaders put “human need before corporate greed,” the No to APEC Coalition proclaimed.
“We are organizing the counter-summit and mass mobilizations. APEC’s free trade agenda will harm millions of workers, women, and migrants in the US and across the Asia-Pacific, yet those who will be most impacted are not at the table,” said protest organizer Rhonda Ramiro.
The No to APEC Coalition will meet at Harry Bridges Plaza on the Embarcadero at 12 p.m. Sunday. Protestors will march towards the Moscone Center.
“APEC is simply a tool of big business and the ruling elite to increase their profits at the expense of people and the planet,” said Brandon Lee of the International Coalition for Human Rights. “Contrary to the city’s branding, APEC will not be epic.”
APEC summit events are scheduled to end on Friday, November 17.