San Francisco has cleaned up several well-known homeless encampments ahead of China‘s dictator Xi Jinping‘s visit Wednesday – an effort California Gov. Gavin Newsom admitted was only done to give a good impression to other world leaders.
In the span of a few days, the city scrubbed seven intersections in the notorious Tenderloin and South of Market – leaving the hotspots almost unrecognizable, and leading many to ask why similar efforts had not been executed sooner.
Where tents were previously propped up, sidewalks are clear and spotless. Locales where homeless once congregated are now cleared, as if a yearslong crisis affecting countless never occurred.
All now immaculate, the cleaned-up streets are seen in photos and video taken from the sites Tuesday – a reality that some suspect will be pulled away one once the Chinese president packs up and leaves.
‘They started clearing the tents earlier this week and there is definitely a lot more police presence,’ SoMa resident Ricci Lee Wynne told The New Post over the weekend as the city-ordered clean-up was taking place.
‘They’ve cleared out the tents that were near the Moscone Center on Howard Street, which tells me the city had the capability to do this all along,’ the citizen added.
‘Instead, they just do the bare minimum.’
Other residents – as well as fed-up activists protesting the anticipated Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the Moscone Center – said much of the same, waking up this week to see tents that had been stationed along Ellis Street and 13th suddenly gone.
Also absent was the open-air drug den directly outside the Pelosi building – which ordered staffers to work from home over the summer due to conditions in the area -and the small tent city across the street.
All had been there for months, with city officials instead electing to use more than $2.8 billion in taxpayer money on humanitarian and outreach efforts.
City officials this week took a different approach, with President Joe Biden set to meet with Jiping he first time in over a year at the Muscone Center, set directly in South of Market, or SoMad.
The person who spoke to the Post posited that once the politicians were gone, the state of the neighborhood – along with the nearby Tenderloin – will return to the state it once was.
‘Once APEC is gone, police presence will start to simmer down again, the tents will return,’ Wynne said, as volunteers were seen cleaning up trash in Dolores Park near Mission Street.
‘It will slowly flare up again. What we need is a permanent solution.’
Nearby, on 7th and Mission across the street from the federal building, photos showed how a ten encampment outside an abandoned store was completely cleaned up Friday – spurring an observing Elon Musk on social media to coyly remark: ‘Where did they go.’
In the same thread – which provided a stark comparison of the street before and after the city-ordered scrubbing – another onlooker commented that the city seemed to have the means to remove the mass of tents seemingly overnight.
‘Proving they can clean up that mess anytime they want,’ the social media wrote, in a post that’s been seen 139,000 times in less than 48 hours.
‘If they want,’ they went on to stress. ‘If it’s not good enough for them it certainly isn’t good enough for us.’
Another added: ‘They had to clean the place up since the boss is flying in from overseas. I’m sure they are all staying in the finest hotels on the taxpayer dime during his stay.’
Someone else simply said of the encampment: ‘It will come back soon.’
The unprecedented measures – which include a series of steel security barriers propped up around the area near the Muscone Center – are designed to present a clean and shiny image during the APEC summit, San Francisco’s biggest gathering of global leaders since 1945.
The city expects the conference, which kicks off Saturday and will run through November 17, to draw more than 20,000 people and generate upwards of $50million in revenue.
The area also saw several protests on Sunday, with anti-capitalists joining forces with pro-Palestinian marchers.
Others, however, blasted Xi as a dictator and demanded he free Tibet, chanting slogans such as: ‘Your time is up!’
Biden and Xi are expected to discuss the Israel-Hamas war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea, Taiwan, human rights, fentanyl, artificial intelligence, as well as ‘fair’ trade and economic relations, administration officials said.
‘Nothing will be held back; everything is on the table,’ one senior Biden administration official told reporters.
‘We’re clear-eyed about this. We know efforts to shape or reform China over several decades have failed. But we expect China to be around and to be a major player on the world stage for the rest of our lifetimes,’ he said.
Officials declined to offer details about the location of Biden’s and Xi’s meeting, citing security concerns. Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on San Francisco during the summit.
The two men last met at a G20 meeting in November 2022 in Bali. They have not spoken since.
But several top Cabinet officials – including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo – have traveled to China as both sides try to keep relations open.
At their sitdown in San Francisco, Biden is expected to raise the sensitive issue of China’s influence operations in America along with the status of U.S. citizens that Washington believes are wrongly detained in China.
Since their last meeting, the U.S. has expressed concerns about Chinese espionage in the U.S. In February a Chinese spy balloon made its way across the United States until an American fighter jet downed it off the coast of South Carolina.
The administration is also concerned about China’s military aggression in Taiwan.
But the main goal of the meeting is to keep communication going.
‘The goals here really are about managing the competition, preventing the downside risk of conflict and ensuring channels of communication are open,’ said an administration official.