Newsom Justifies Extensive San Francisco Cleanup Before Visit by China’s Xi Jinping

Governor Gavin Newsom has justified his choice to initiate an extensive cleanup in California before the arrival of notable world leaders, including President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping.

While unveiling a program to plant trees in urban neighborhoods on Nov. 13, Newsom acknowledged the cleanup efforts, referring to the impending visit from what he characterized as “high-profile” leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group’s annual meeting in San Francisco this week.

“I know folks are saying, ‘Oh, they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town, that’s true because it’s true,” Mr. Newsom said Monday.

While the governor admitted to cleaning up the state—which has been battling with rampant homelessness, drug use, and rising thefts—ahead of the visit, he also claimed such clean-up efforts had been in place for “years” prior to the APEC meeting, under the billion-dollar “Clean California” initiative unveiled in 2021.

That scheme was marketed by the governor as a “transformative initiative to remove litter, create jobs, and beautify California.”

Mr. Newsom’s comments come as major retailers have been forced to pull out of California, citing concerns about theft and the safety of employees as the city continues to grapple with increased crime and drug overdoses. San Francisco, which defunded the police in 2020 in response to Black Lives Matter protests, also slashed its police and sheriff departments’ budgets by $120 million.

On Monday, the governor reiterated his stance, expressing enthusiasm to reporters and emphasizing his eagerness to showcase California to the “21 distinguished foreign leaders from across the globe.”

“Anytime you put on an event, by definition, you have people over your house—you got to clean up the house. You’ve got 21 foreign leaders, you got tens of thousands of people coming from around the globe, what an opportunity to showcase the world’s most extraordinary place, San Francisco, “the governor said.

According to reports, roughly 3,300 homeless encampments have been cleared as part of the Clean California scheme since 2021.