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San Francisco Cracks Down on Unlicensed Food Vendors in Union Square

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- San Francisco is cracking down on unlicensed food vendors in Union Square this weekend.

City officials instructed officers to ticket people selling food without a permit. On both Saturday and Sunday, officers ticketed vendors. Public works employees confiscated carts and food items.

"They all wear multiple hats and that includes handling the food while handling the cash. And Covid or not, cash is one of the dirtiest items because it passes through so many hands," said San Francisco resident Jenny Shao.

City officials said the issue is about safety. A vendor was seen cooking hot dogs with an exposed propane tank on a busy sidewalk. The hot dogs were stored in a plastic bag.

"They all need to follow the rules. All of us need to follow the rules. They are there in place for a reason," said Shao.

The city said outreach workers have been asking the vendors for weeks to get a permit and follow basic food-handling safety guidelines. The city said the vendors ignored them, which led to the weekend crackdown. It appeared the city did not go after illegal vendors operating away from Union Square.

Vendors selling clothes and other non-food items were also left alone.

"I rather them be out there selling food than selling drugs," said a shopper who gave her name as Ms. Brown. "You have to do what you have to do to survive."

Some shoppers said they support the vendors, many of which are immigrants from Central America.

"They don't mess with the people that are stealing from the stores but they're messing with the vendors. That's messed up," said Mike Jones, a street vendor who had set up in front of a Ross store on Market Street..

The city said food vendors who were cited this weekend wouldn't have pay the ticket if they can get a permit. If they can do it in 30 days, they can get their carts back.

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