A new wrinkle in the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between SFPD and illegal Mission Street vendors, as “event fencing” now surrounds the perimeter of the McDonald’s next to the 24th Street BART station.
It’s been about ten months since Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office first had fences put up around the 24th Street BART station in hopes of deterring the illegal street vending bazaars that were proliferating there (and about nine months since protesters ripped those fences down). There is now a vendor permitting system and more law enforcement presence, which have brought some occasionally encouraging results, though these results vary by the day.
Lately you may have noticed a beefed up police presence outside the northeast corner of 24th and Mission Streets, which has done yeoman's work to clean up that corner. Yet there’s been... something of a trade-off.
The above photo was taken May 29, and we see the vendors have merely moved to the other side of the street, crowding the sidewalks outside the 24th Street McDonald’s. And like that Safeway in the Fillmore, this McDonald’s has started playing classical music in hopes of deterring loiterers.
There were even a few on-duty police officers there that same day, not really intervening or doing any enforcement, just standing there and providing presence.
But what a difference less than a week later. As SFist first observed this past Sunday, barricades have been placed around the perimeter of the McDonald’s. These barricades have remained in place for at least the last four days, and are similar to the barricades that stayed up around the Valencia Street police station for more than two years after the George Floyd protests.
Some of these are branded with SF Public Works logos, so we reached out to SF Public Works to learn more. Public Works declined to comment, though referred us to SFPD, who did respond with comment.
SFPD said in a statement to SFist, "The event fencing placed in the area of 24th and Mission Streets was done so in collaboration with local business, residents, and community stakeholders to help facilitate the flow of foot traffic in the neighborhood while ensuring ADA compliance."
We tried to get comment from the McDonald’s on whether they were one of these businesses, but store managers repeatedly declined to comment to the press. We also reached out to Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office, and we’ll update this post with any response.
When asked, SFPD did not detail a timeline for how long the “event fencing” barricades would remain up.
And in one notable irony, the Mission Street McDonald's front door, which these barricades presumably protect access to, does not even work. This SFist correspondent has lived within a few blocks of that McDonald’s for the better part of ten years, and I don't recall the store operators ever allowing entry or exit through these front Mission Street doors.
“Come on in” says a sign on the door that you can’t come in through.
The only working door at this McDonald's is on the 24th Street side, which does not have barricades.
It’s not just McDonald’s that has barricades across its storefront. Their neighbors Unica Dental, La Santaneca De La Mission restaurant, Mr. Pollo, and Great Mission Hair Salon have similar barricades in front of their sidewalk.
And as you might have guessed, those barriers have at times simply pushed the vendors right back to where they had been outside the 24th Street BART station entrance across 24th Street. The above images shows the scene Sunday at 5:39 p.m., not long after the barricades went up around McDonald’s. Though in fairness, Sunday is one of the bigger vending days, and similar-size crowds have not been seen there since.
SFist just checked the scene again Wednesday afternoon, and the 24th Street BART side was pretty clear of vendors. The only vendors present looked legitimate, selling fresh flowers or handmade aguas frescas. And there was an SFPD officer present, plus a couple “community ambassador” types in bright green plastic vests. So this tactic may yet work, but will probably have to change as vendors adapt to the latest cat-and-mouse strategies.
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist