The DPH and the police spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday impounding hot dog vendors’ carts and handing out citations, in one of the more “victimless crime” crackdowns from a city eager to appear that it's cracking down on misconduct.
One San Francisco mini-meme that emerged this weekend was the image seen below, that of a Union Square bacon-wrapped hot dog vendor cart that, in the words of Mission Local, was “impounded by San Francisco Public Works with the sausages and onions still grilling.” That image is from a Friday report about multiple hot dog vendors being cited or having their carts impounded for lacking a proper food vending license.
Merry Christmas: Cops and Health Dept. cite hot dog vendors at Union Square — and impound at least one man's cart.— Mission Local (@MLNow) December 18, 2021
On-the-spot reporting from @AnnikaHom https://t.co/Cu2IYGTsNf
“At about 1:42 p.m. a group of at least six police officers and two Department of Public Health employees wrote up the hot dog vendors at Macy’s after they could not produce the proper license, and then impounded at least one man’s cart,” Mission Local reported Friday.
But according to KPIX, the street food vendor crackdown continued Saturday and Sunday, also ensuring tamale vendors and other food cart purveyors. Their crime is not having a food vendor permit, and apparently the city has been telling the vendors for the last month that this crackdown was coming. It clearly arrived this weekend, with a muscular combination of SFPD, DPW, and health department issuing citations and hauling off carts.
San Francisco launched a crackdown on unlicensed street vendors -- particularly those selling food -- in Union Square. https://t.co/9CCjt4UtQh— KPIX 5 (@KPIXtv) December 20, 2021
Vendors can apparently get their carts back, but only upon paying a $168 fee for a mobile food facility permit.
I just keep thinking about the fact that this is how San Francisco is spending DPH staff time during *a deadly pandemic* https://t.co/iSiXHV8Lnq— Brian EdwardsTiekert (@bedwardstiek) December 18, 2021
Mission Local got a statement out of the DPH about all of this. “The owner of carts without a permit are issued a citation and the cart and/or food is impounded and held on a city-owned lot until a hearing can be held within 30 days,” according to a DPH response. “If the owner shows that their business operation meets the current regulatory requirements, they can be granted a permit to operate and retrieve their cart. There are no fines or penalties for the vendor. Any equipment not claimed is properly disposed of.”
We have seen crackdowns on food vendors during big events in years past, but honestly, this seems like a ticky-tack offense to be prosecuting when other vendors are selling clearly stolen goods, plus they’re telling us there’s some apocalyptic crime wave happening in the Tenderloin. Yes, you can get a foodborne illness from eating an improperly prepared bacon-wrapped hot dog. But that seems… not one of our biggest problems right now?
KPIX adds that “It appeared the city did not go after illegal vendors operating away from Union Square,” and even more curiously, that “Vendors selling clothes and other non-food items were also left alone.” I would just think people selling clothes are doing more to undercut Union Square retailers, and those retailers would probably prefer burglary prevention over hot dog crackdowns.
“They don’t mess with the people that are stealing from the stores but they’re messing with the vendors. That’s messed up,” one vendor told KPIX.
Related: As City Seeks to Crack Down on Unpermitted Vendors at Fisherman's Wharf, ABC Passes Buck to DA
Image: @sandygarciaa_ via Twitter