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San Francisco Begins Major Crackdown on Illegal Street Vendors

First major target is near 24th and Mission BART Plaza

By Evan Symon, September 13, 2022 4:11 pm

The city of San Francisco began a new crackdown on illegal vendors and open air drug markets on Tuesday, starting with the 24th Street BART station in the Mission District.

For years, rising crime in San Francisco has brought an increased number of illegal street vendors, unlicensed sellers, more open air drug markets, and criminals even moving into brick and mortar buildings to sell. San Francisco has taken numerous measures this year, many of which were instituted by new DA Brooke Jenkins by reversing policies made by former DA Chesa Boudin, in an effort to combat crime. At City Hall, Supervisor Hillary Ronen wrote, and later got passed, an ordinance aimed at illegal street vending.

In July, two of the busiest corners in the city on 24th Street and Mission, were fenced off following the ordinances passage. While many protested the move, especially since the law wouldn’t really be enforced until September, and many charged that the law would only hurt people of color who couldn’t get permits, the number of illegal street vendors quickly fell. Supervisor Ronen noted it in a tweet that month, including how permits could now be obtained.

“While it is never my desire to close public space the situation at 24th & Mission BART plaza has become untenable & is causing problems for the whole neighborhood,” tweeted Ronen. “It infuriates me to see a once beautiful & vibrant community space overrun by open-air drug markets & vendors selling stolen goods. The new fence is a temporary solution while Public Works sets up the vendor permit application process & trains more street inspectors. Public Works has informed my office that the permitting system will be available in the middle of next month.”

“Once the permits are available Public Works can begin confiscating goods from unpermitted vendors. SFPD & Public Works will continue to enforce ADA laws to ensure safe access to the sidewalk. We are also working with the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District and BART to develop a plan for re-activation & restoration of the plaza as a community space.”

A new crackdown in SF

Encouraged by this, enforcement began on Tuesday after weeks of warnings. Street vending permits can be applied for with a $430 fee. However, free permit applications can be given if the applicant is a non-profit, if they make less than 200% of the federal poverty level of under $25,760, or if they receive Medi-Cal, food stamps, or free Muni passes.

Public Works officials, along with San Francisco police officers, will begin finding and removing illegal vendors. For those that they find without a permit, their goods can be seized for as long as 90 days, or until they get a permit. Beyond this, violations would then move up into fines, with first time violators getting a $250 fine and up to $1,000 for a third violation.

While 24th and Mission isn’t the only place being targeted, it is the most prominent, with many law enforcement experts noting how an improved BART station there could help bring change throughout the city.

“If Public Works and the SFPD can really bring down crime in a place like that BART Station, it could provide a blueprint on how to crackdown citywide,” explained Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official who now works as a security advisor for businesses in San Francisco and cities in the Peninsula, to the Globe on Tuesday. “People selling drugs and setting up shops illegally breed crime, and really, annoy a lot of people both resident and tourist alike.”

“In fact, those bad conditions kind of chase people away from spending, from using public transit, and even from going around the rest of the city. We need to see the big picture on this, and really, think about public safety first again. It seems, like with this ordinance, we are on the right track.”

Other laws and ordinances aimed at reducing crime are expected to continue to be rolled out in San Francisco later this year.

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One thought on “San Francisco Begins Major Crackdown on Illegal Street Vendors

  1. Tax revolts finally get their attention. We need more of them. A lot more of them. Learn what SF merchants chose to do – stop paying their taxes since they got zero benefit in return. We can all relate.

    Repeal 16th Amendment and make tax revolt permanent.

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