San Francisco Mission District vendors say street vending ban isn't fair

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Thursday, October 19, 2023
SF Mission District vendors say street vending ban isn't fair
San Francisco Mission District's vendors say street vending ban on Mission Street isn't fair to those who have been following the rules.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen is categorizing the ban on street vending in the Mission District as a necessary emergency measure. She is hoping to start with 90 days but if it works - keep the ban indefinitely.

It's been four months since San Francisco street vendors in the Mission District entered a permitting program, but now they're being told street vending will be banned next month.

"For 90 days, as an emergency measure to address health and safety issues, vending from Mission Street, from 14th to 25th and a small perimeter around the BART stations," said Hilary Ronen, San Francisco supervisor.

Supervisor Ronen represents this district. Her office is getting reports of San Francisco Public Works employees being attacked and unpermitted vendors blocking sidewalks.

She is hoping that by banning street vending in selected areas, those who are selling stolen goods will leave.

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"It's hard to enforce, and it's just not working. It's not working enough," said Supervisor Ronen. "This is such a safety problem."

ABC7 News went to the Mission District to speak to vendors. Many had no idea this enforcement is about to happen.

"It's affecting us. What else are we going to be able to live out of? It's not only me, but all of us. (Nos esta afectando. De que mas vamos a vivir? No solo a mi pero a todos)" said Reyna Portillo, street vendor.

Every vendor we spoke to had a permit and now they are confused, asking why they have to pay the price for the group that is not following the rules.

"We are a very clean area here in the Mission. If you look across the street, you can see how that looks, (Mantemos esta area limpia pero si vez al frente mira como se ve)" said Cesar Rolando Canales, street vendor.

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Cesar has two daughters and is concerned he won't be able to make enough money to pay rent.

"This is going to impact us, and we are not at fault. We have kept the plaza very clean. This is how we make a living. This is how we are able to provide for our families, (Nos va a afectar. No tenemos la culpa porque hemos mantenido la plaza muy limpia. Con esto mantemos a nuestras familias.)" said Canales.

The Public Works Department is hoping a 90-day pause will help them regain control of the sidewalks taken over by many who are selling stolen property and attacking inspectors.

"Our inspectors have been offered bulletproof vests. Some of them are availing themselves to that opportunity. They are wearing them. They have been punched, they have been poked. They've had things thrown at them," said Rachel Gordon, spokesperson for the San Francisco Public Works Dept.

Aaron Harbour, director for the Et al Gallery in the Mission, doesn't see the point of this drastic change.

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"It seems like a Band-Aid to look like the government is doing something when there are real problems that need to be solved," said Harbour.

Even though the emergency measure is still being worked out, vendors selling food may not be impacted, but they are still on high alert.

"This is my income. My husband is also sick, and he cannot work anywhere else," (Este es mi ingreso. Mi esposo esta enfermo y no puede trabajar en otro cosa ahorita)," said Marta Regidor, street vendor.

Permitted street vendors will be able to sell anywhere else in the Mission District that is not part of the enforcement area. Supervisor Ronen's office is also working with a nonprofit to provide vendors an enclosed space to sale goods as well as BART to allow some of them to sell on their property.

San Francisco Public Works inspectors are scheduled to begin initial enforcement along Mission Street in early November. After that enforcement, SFPD officers will be deployed to enforce fenced goods.

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