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  • C. Tilly

The Curious Case of San Francisco's Cleanup: Political Posturing or Genuine Progress?


In a surprising turn of events, San Francisco, a city notorious for its struggles with homelessness and street cleanliness, has recently undergone a drastic cleanup effort. The catalyst for this unexpected transformation? The impending visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping and a host of international leaders for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

While some hail this move as a necessary step to present a favorable image to the global community, others question the sincerity of the efforts. This article delves into the details surrounding San Francisco's cleanup and the political motivations that may underpin this dramatic change.

San Francisco has long grappled with visible homelessness, with tent cities and makeshift shelters lining its streets. The city's decision to address this issue coincides with the visit of high-profile leaders, sparking speculation about the true intentions behind the cleanup.

A cynical perspective suggests that the cleanup is a temporary measure to make the city appear more appealing to international dignitaries. The question arises: Is this a genuine effort to address homelessness, or is it merely a facelift for a global audience?


California Governor Gavin Newsom's statements add fuel to the controversy. While acknowledging the cleanup's connection to the international summit, Newsom defended the move, stating that it's natural to clean up when hosting a major event. Critics argue that the sudden concern for cleanliness raises questions about the government's priorities and its commitment to addressing longstanding issues.

Mayor London Breed's emphasis on tourism as a crucial economic driver for San Francisco has sparked a debate. While tourism indeed contributes significantly to the city's economy, locals express concerns about the disparity in attention between short-term events and the daily challenges faced by permanent residents.

The tension between catering to global visitors and addressing the needs of the local population raises broader questions about government priorities and resource allocation.

The cleanup efforts draw parallels with tactics employed by authoritarian regimes. Some argue that the forced displacement of homeless individuals mirrors strategies used by repressive governments to create an illusion of prosperity. Such comparisons raise ethical concerns about the government's approach to social issues and its commitment to human rights.


As San Francisco's cleanup becomes a focal point of public discourse, it also intertwines with national political dynamics. With rumors of Gavin Newsom's potential entry into the 2024 presidential race, critics question the timing and authenticity of the cleanup as a political maneuver.

San Francisco's recent cleanup efforts, while ostensibly aimed at presenting a cleaner image to the world, have sparked a contentious debate about government priorities and political posturing. As the city grapples with homelessness and social challenges, the global spotlight intensifies scrutiny on the motivations behind the cleanup. Whether this marks a genuine effort to address long-standing issues or is a calculated move to appease international leaders remains a topic of fervent discussion.



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