Is SF's street vending permit enforcement working? Here's what we found out

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, September 23, 2022
Here's how effective SF's street vending permit enforcement is so far
Is San Francisco's street vending permit enforcement proving effective? ABC7 News took a look at one of the city's most effective spots.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's been several weeks since San Francisco began cracking down on street vendors, requiring them to have a permit to sell at the 24th Street BART Plaza. City officials say the program is working as people try to comply with the law.

What ABC7 News saw Thursday seems to confirm that it's the so-called "backpack peddling" that is proving hard to stop.

The corner of 24th and Mission streets in the Mission District has always been bustling with people selling goods. After the city demanded permits, the sidewalks now seem less crowded.

To date, the city has issued 49 permits. In almost all cases, the city has waived the $430 fee.

RELATED: SF to crack down on illegal vendors in the Mission District, 'confiscate' items

Vendors like Jose Escalante were more than happy to show us their permits.

"A lot of folks are very happy that finally the city is doing something to restore some sort of order and system so that it's not what it has been. It's been chaos," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

But as we witnessed, it's nearly impossible to make everyone comply. It's the backpack peddlers who continue to break the law.

Rafael Gutierrez told ABC7 News he sees the backpack peddlers every day. We watched from across the street as a man with a white beanie tried to sell several pants with tags on.

"Oh he's right there, still walking around trying to sell pants stolen from Ross. Yeah, it's an ongoing situation every day," Gutierrez said.

VIDEO: Popular SF street vending spot deserted on 1st day of permit enforcement

A popular street vending spot in San Francisco's Mission District was left deserted on Tuesday on the first day of permit enforcement.

We approached the young man selling these pants and asked what he was trying to do with them.

"Oh God, Why me?" he said as we identified ourselves. "Yeah, I'm trying to sell those pants."

We asked him if they were stolen.

"I'm not going to do that, even though it's hearsay in court. You know how it is in San Francisco. This is a black market," he said in his response.

One by one sellers avoided interacting with ABC7 News, even from showing us any kind of bill of sale or permit.

RELATED: Video: Small explosion at unpermitted food cart at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf

We asked one of the many to show us his permit. "No, no no, no, no," he said as he walked away carrying the items he was trying to resell.

A third man asked us to see our police badges. We showed him our ABC7 news press badge instead. "I have a permit, but I don't have to show you," was his final answer.

"There is no way you can stop people who are coming in and getting out, but we've seen a big difference. More people are staying out. It's not as many people coming there, because we do have inspectors and police officers there monitoring the situation much more closely," said Rachel Gordon of the San Francisco Public Works Department.

Vendors who have had permits for years say they just want a fair way to earn a living.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live