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Rejecting city facilities, street vendors spread out across S.F. Mission sidewalks

Rejecting city facilities, street vendors relocate around S.F. Mission District
Rejecting city facilities, street vendors relocate around S.F. Mission District 03:13

SAN FRANCISCO -- The drama surrounding vendors in the San Francisco Mission District continued with a new twist on Sunday. Some vendors moved a block over from their previous spot and neighbors weren't happy.

The city banned street vending at the Mission Street and 24th Street BART Plaza for 90 days. At the time, San Francisco supervisor Hillary Ronen said people who sell stolen goods were mixed in with legitimate mom-and-pop vendors.

The city moved the legal vendors to a nearby indoor space provided free of charge to sell their products. But this weekend, some mom-and-pop vendors left the city-run facility to set up tents on the sidewalk along 24th Street, between Capp Street and South Van Ness Avenue.

"I do feel the street is much narrower. We're just two people walking but, if there was another person walking down here, they'd probably have an issue," said neighborhood resident Daman Kapoor who was walking his bike on the sidewalk.

Residents like Kapoor said access was an issue since six to eight vendors took up about half of the sidewalk on one side of 24th Street.

"There's not enough room to walk by. It doesn't feel pleasant," Kapoor said.

Neighbors say the bigger concern is that more vendors will follow and set up across the street and on the next block. They also worried that people who sell stolen goods will do the same.

"We just don't want to have an unpalatable neighborhood. We cannot let our Latin corridor suffer," Kapoor said.

Neighbor Tomas Camey, who lives near the stretch of sidewalk where the vendors have set up said he was sympathetic because many of them are hardworking grandmothers.

"Everybody has to survive (and make) some money for the family," Camey said. "But (the vendors cannot do it here) for a long time because this affects the people walking."

None of the vendors would speak on camera. A few told KPIX off camera they set up their booths at the free city-run indoor facility earlier in the week but they did not have customers. One woman said she made $10. That was why the vendors decided to set up on 24th Street where there was a lot more foot traffic.

The city-run building on Mission Street was open Sunday with a few vendors inside but there were no customers in sight when KPIX visited to record video.

"Maybe the vendors can do free advertising with the city's assistance, market the space more proactively," Kapoor suggested.

Neighbors want to find a win-win solution because they said the BART plaza is much cleaner and safer after the street vendor ban. 

"We need to keep our streets thriving. The city cannot die, we must not let it die," Kapoor said.

San Francisco police and Public Works employees were standing on duty at the plaza a block away from the vendors. They did not ask the vendors to leave.

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