SF trying to regulate street food vendors


Street food, culinary delights sold from push carts and mobile trucks, has become a phenomenon, with vendors developing loyal followings.

"We have close to 2,000 followers on Twitter; we have close to 1,000 fans on Facebook," Tan Truong of Kung Fu Tacos said.

"I think San Francisco street food is some of the most exciting in the country right now," customer Toshi Hoo said.

It is estimated there are at least 200 street vood fendors operating in the city and regulating them is confusing. The police, health, recreation and parks, and public works are all departments that have some connection, but many vendors are not sure who to turn to for permits.

"If any people go to these unpermitted push carts, they are at risk to food borne illnesses," Richard Lee of the San Francisco Department of Public Health said.

Monday, Supervisor Bevan Dufty held a hearing to get the conversation started on how to bring these businesses into the fold. According to Dufty, "The rules that govern them are difficult to understand and hard to enforce." The city's planning department administrator says he thinks the food vendors are great and help the vitality of the city's economy, but says current planning code has very, very little to say about these new entrepreneurial ventures.

Curtis Kimball, who has become famous as The Crème Brulee Guy, because of the deserts he sells from his cart around the city, attended Monday's hearing. He tells ABC7 that he is excited to be part of the process.

Daniel Scherotter, owner of the Financial District restaurant Palio D'Asti, is a board member of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Scherotter says from a purely culinary viewpoint, the street vendors are interesting and creative, but from a business perspective, not so much. He pays property taxes, payroll taxes, minimum wage, the city's health care mandate and numerous other fees. Unless the folks with the carts and trucks are doing the same, owners of many brick and mortar establishments say it is unfair competition.

Customers ABC7 talked with say the food is wonderful, cheap and convenient.

The next step for the city is to get all the departments together, as well as the Small Business Commission, to come up with a clear process and rules.

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