Lasers to light up San Francisco during APEC

Final preparations are underway to light up San Francisco during the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

"We’re the only city in the world that is doing this," Ben Davis, founder of San Francisco non-profit Illuminate told KTVU.

Illuminate is the same group behind the rainbow-colored lights for Pride and the lights on the Bay Bridge.

Less than two weeks before the conference, APEC tried to turn the lights off.

"Our funding got cut by APEC at the last minute for this project," Davis said. "I understand they had increased security costs and the world feels more dangerous than it did."

Illuminate is absorbing the cost to the tune of $150,000.

The team hopes a crowdfunding campaign will help them get their money back.

Designer Tim Henshaw-Plath is the project manager behind the 12 Laser Space Cannons.

"Shooting the length of Market Street over the top of Twin Peaks," Henshaw-Plath said.

Twin Peaks is four miles away from Harry Bridges Plaza where the lasers are located, just across The Embarcadero from the Ferry Building.

The lights will be horizontal.

You can walk right under them.


"Each dot does a different color, and then they combine as one to make a singular color," Henshaw-Plath said.

Davis said he had to get permits from the FAA to operate the lasers.

He hopes the guiding light will grab the attention of the 20,000 visitors and 21 world leaders expected to attend APEC, including President Joe Biden.

"Whether you’re the president of China or someone coming to protest, you can almost have a similar human experience when you look up and see this light," Davis said.

If fog rolls in or rain falls, Davis promises the spectacle would be even more eye-catching.

"We’re going to have sort of glacial pastels that are going to move through the sky," Davis said. "It’s going to be quite beautiful is all I can say."

The lights will shine Monday night through Friday morning from dusk to dawn.

"Get out and walk and see your city in a new light," Davis said. 

Security will be on hand to make sure vandals or thieves do not make the lights go dark.