Business curfew in SF's Tenderloin proposed; mayor's effort to crack down on open-air drug markets

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
A business curfew could soon be coming to this SF neighborhood
Some retail stores in San Francisco's Tenderloin could soon have a curfew.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There is a new proposal in San Francisco to tackle those open-air drug markets in the Tenderloin.

The proposal would impose curfews on smoke shops and corner stores--forcing them to close between midnight and 5 a.m. or they would face fines.

The proposed curfew would not apply to restaurants, bars or event halls.

Supporters say the pilot program could help crack down on people who gather outside retail stores or smoke shops late at night and engage in drug-related crimes.

What the Tenderloin looks like during the day is dramatically different at night.

"The day time is relatively safe for people who are working here and living here," said Esan Looper, Director of Community Organizing: Tenderloin Community Benefit District.

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Many people say the Tenderloin looks dramatically different at night.

Mayor London Breed wants to impose a curfew on some small businesses selling pre-packaged food or tobacco products between midnight and 5 a.m.

That would affect corner stores and smoke shops in part of the Tenderloin.

The curfew would impact areas between O'Farrell and McCallister and from Polk to Jones.

Some say when people gather outside certain Tenderloin businesses that stay open late--there's trouble.

"(There are) open-air drug markets. They will see open air resale markets. And they are often coalescing around places that are open. That is not always the merchants fault," said Looper.

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As part of the proposed curfew, a $1,000 fine would be imposed for every hour the business stays open past midnight.

Adnan Ramahi is the owner of Underground Gift and Smoke shop.

On weekdays, he closes at 10 p.m.

"It's not worth the headache for me to open late," said Ramahi.

Ramahi agrees with the mayor's proposed curfew.

"For businesses that open late like 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock in the morning. I don't think that's a good idea because the only people going at this time in the street, people looking for trouble."

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Brad Reiss of lived on the streets of San Francisco's Tenderloin. He survived by being shot twice and started a nonprofit to help those on the street.

One corner store employee tells me restaurant workers and kitchen staff often stop by late at night... and a curfew would impact customers.

David Blood-- of the Tenderloin-- can relate.

"I was a cab driver. I used to come home and I was so grateful for them to be open," said Blood.

Blood doesn't think a curfew is the answer to curbing drug-related crimes.

"To me, it seems like a cruel crackdown on somebody that's not responsible for that," said Blood.

Mayor London Breed released this statement on Tuesday about the proposed curfew:

"This is an idea for the community, from the community. The drug markets happening at night in this neighborhood are unacceptable and must be met with increased law enforcement and new strategies. "

The proposed curfew still needs to be voted on by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in mid-May or mid-June.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the Tenderloin, is requesting a list of impacted stores.

Preston stated the legislation "must be highly targeted to be effective" and "it's important to make sure small business owners are not punished unnecessarily."

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