SAN FRANCISCO -- When the sun goes down, the BART plaza at 16th and Mission streets often becomes a hotspot for street vendors.
Starting Monday Nov. 27, the city of San Francisco will ban street vending on a portion of Mission Street for 90 days.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district includes the Mission, said large-scale fencing operations here have created chaos and serious safety concerns. Public works employees in charge of enforcement have been threatened and assaulted.
"I'm among the vendors so I'm a product of the environment, as you may call it," said Zachary Guyton.
For the past six months, you can count on finding Guyton at the plaza. He says he hands out free or discounted phones through a government-funded program.
"For the ban, I feel that it's wrong because a lot of people who pay for a permit and have families and need to provide for them -- they can't because there's a 90-day ban."
Guyton says he doesn't pay for a permit and believes he shouldn't be required to because he's technically not selling goods. But he sympathizes with the vendors he shares the sidewalk with.
"There's a lot of suffering on the street. There's a lot of people battling addiction. There's a lot of items that may or may not be stolen. There's a lot of things that are happening on the streets right now ... we cannot pretend that that's not happening," said Jon Jacobo, a vendors association spokesperson. "At the same time, as has been made clear to the supervisor's office, the people that aren't following your rules today are very likely not going to follow your rules tomorrow."
Jacobo lives in the Mission and is the spokesperson for the newly formed Mission Street Vendors Association, which consists of more than 100 permitted vendors who are calling for the ban to be postponed until after the holidays.
Supervisor Ronen's office said it has secured an indoor marketplace located at 2137 Mission Street that will have 50 spots available Monday and is in talks to open a second location with up to 50 spots on 16th Street. Applications are now open.
Kevin Ortiz is the co-president of the SF Latinx Democratic Club and he supports the work of legal vendors.
"One hundred sixteen vendors that went through the whole process. It completely leaves out the rest of those folks that are kind of going into place and the other thing I'll mention is, in terms of the enforcement, DPW workers aren't out here after 5 'o clock right? And so, what ends up happening is, you actually see a lot of our conditions coming to be this way after the hours of 9 to 5," Ortiz said.
In a statement to KPIX, Supervisor Ronen said Sunday:
"While I am incredibly empathetic to the vendors' situation and constantly fight for economic opportunities for our newcomers, the chaos on the street must end. Public Works has already delayed implementation of the new ban until we could obtain two off-street locations for legitimate vendors to sell their goods. We are currently accepting applications for those spots and the indoor market will be open Monday Morning.
We have held several meetings with vendors and the city has been doing outreach about the ban for over a month. We have heard the concerns of the vendors and acted quickly at both monetary cost and dedicated staff time of the city to secure locations off the street where legitimate vendors can continue to sell their goods.
Due to the serious safety concerns and other problems caused primarily by the large-scale fencing operation on Mission Street, we must act to address the problem as soon as possible. There has already been a murder and several stabbing associated with these fencing operations. Safety in the Mission is paramount and we can simply no longer wait.
As Supervisor my job is to balance the needs of brick-and-mortar businesses, residents, city workers and legitimate vendors. I'm trying to balance the conflicting needs of all parties in the fairest and best way I know how."
When asked if he thinks the plaza at 16th and 24th Streets will look any different on Monday, Ortiz said: "No, no I don't think so."
Guyton said he may just move to another block in the city.
The Mission Street Vendors Association is planning a protest at the 24th Street BART plaza on Monday at 11 a.m. They are still pushing for the ban to be delayed until Jan. 1.
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