It was the best of weekends and the worst of weekends in the effort to curb illegal vending at the 24th and Mission Street Plaza, as Saturday’s efforts rendered the corner near-pristine, but all the vendors simply showed back up Sunday.
Like many of you, SFist has been closely following the recent months’ illegal street vending bazaar situation outside the BART station at the 24th and Mission Street plaza. Last month, a vendor permitting system kicked in that was intended to keep honest vendors operating, but send stolen-goods vendors packing. That system enjoyed some good initial success, though some amounts of illegal vending have trickled back on some days.
This past weekend provided an excellent case study in terms of what has worked, and what has not. All of the photos in this post were taken within roughly 24 hours of one another, but paint very different pictures of what was going on at 24th and Mission Streets both Saturday and Sunday
On Saturday, as seen above, we have wide open sidewalks and absolutely no unpermitted vending. This is likely the result of an “unmarked” police car being parked on the sidewalk, though the vehicle’s two on-duty officers and blue-and-red, front-windshield LED blinkers made it pretty darned obvious that there was police presence here. As such, vendors chose to not set up shop.
But come Sunday, with no SFPD or Public Works presence whatsoever, the illegal vending returned to the very same sidewalk in full force. This is the same volume of street vending we saw at the peak of the problem over the summer, when that ill-fated set of fences was erected (and eventually torn down by protesters).
The prevalence of price tags on many of these items sure seems like a tell that they were at some point ripped off from retailers’ shelves. This goes beyond the ‘yard sale’ concept of people unloading their own belongings for money, and probably does undercut the business of brick-and-mortar apparel sales at businesses on Mission Street. Some vendors selling flowers, tamales, and aguas frescas can indeed add to the vibrancy of the corner, and attract more foot traffic for those brick-and-mortar retailers. But deterring vendors selling clearly poached items is proving a trickier proposition, and even the best-laid-out efforts are seeing their effectiveness vary, literally day by day.
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist