Residents of San Francisco’s Nob Hill had to contend with sudden street closures and adorable bomb-sniffing dogs this week when President Biden checked in at the Fairmont.
“I’m sorry, you can’t walk on this side of the sidewalk,” an ostensibly well-meaning, albeit frustrating SFPD officer told me outside of the Fairmont in San Francisco, her voice amplified by my AirPods in transparency mode being turned on. “You’re going to need to move to the other side.”
Meandering to the opposite side of the street — weaving through a collection go aluminum barricades, taking note of the increased SFPD presence and an unusual amount of utility vehicles saddling the 4-star hotel at 900 Mason Street — it dawned on me that President Biden was likely inside as part of his Bay Area fundraising trip. And I was right.
President Biden arrived at the 116-year-old hotel Monday, he and his staff taking up an entire floor of the historic hotel, according to guests.
(Some guests we spoke to outside the hotel noted that they experienced “abrupt” room changes upon check-in and weren’t given an exact reason; they later deduced why after secret service agents were positioned around the hotel. Ironically enough, the UPS location and Live Fit Gym studio on the hotel grounds remained opened during the president’s two-day stay, though under increased security.)
As part of his three-day tour of the SF Bay Area, which ended today, Wednesday, June 21st, President Biden met with prominent AI experts inside the aforenoted hotel on Tuesday; Biden was joined by Governor Newsom, both of whom pedestaled the region’s prominence in the tech sector. Biden was quoted saying “we’ll see more technological change in the next 10 years than we saw in the last 50 years” — a sentiment that has merit, given the advancements we’ve seen with public AI utilities over the past year.
After the panel discussion Tuesday, Biden left by presidential motorcade en route to a brief speaking engagement at Crissy Field before heading to a fundraising event in Lakespur — around the same time video showed a U.S. fighter jet intercepting a private plane that had flown into the restricted airspace over Marin County.
Biden Tuesday evening traveled back to his temporary digs at the Fairmont, ultimately leaving the hotel sometime earlier today before 1 p.m. — as evidenced by the reopening of the stretch of road off Mason and California streets; the outdoor tent erected for vehicle inspections, which included the use of a very handsome Dutched shepard for bomb detection, was also cleared this afternoon.
It’s unclear what state of either abject chaos or organization the president’s room was in prior to him departing SFO on Air Force One today back to the East Coast.
All images: Courtesy of Matthew Charnock