The waist-high barriers meant to curb illegal street vending at 24th and Mission streets have now also popped up at the 16th and Mission Street BART Plaza too, though they may be deterring sidewalk access more than they deter street vending.
The ongoing, now year-and-a-half long cat-and-mouse game of fighting illegal vending at the 24th and Mission BART Plaza has seen the police, the Department of Public Works, and Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office cycle through a parade of disparate tactics like metal fences, street barricades, inconsistent enforcement, and attempts at a vending permit system. It would be a stretch to say that any of this has “worked,” but one could argue these tactics are a work in progress.
Now the same runaround has also come to the also-vendor packed 16th and Mission Street BART Plaza. Mission Local reported Wednesday that street barricades have been put up at 16th and Mission streets, primarily on the southwest corner of the interaction that has the most street vending activity.
A Thursday morning trip SFist took to 16th and Mission streets found that this has certainly not stopped any illegal vending at the corner. And some of the vendors may have that legal license. But keep in mind that a Thursday morning at 11 a.m., which is when these photos were taken, is a light hour when not many vendors are present. Weekend afternoons tend to see far heavier volumes of vending.
But the effort has cleared out the area around the BART station entrances, which may be the point. Mission Local reports the barricades were placed up on the request of SFPD. A police department spokesperson told Mission Local this was in response to “concerns regarding vendors encroaching on the sidewalk and making it difficult for people to move through the area without obstructions.”
And this has cleared the BART station entrance area, but has certainly created more congestion on the sidewalk at the southwest intersection of 16th and Mission streets, particularly near the Muni bus shelter.
The barriers sure haven’t stopped the vending, but they may indeed be something of a deterrent. One vendor named Hector told Mission Local, "I like to feel free and have the ability to go out and make money if I want to, but fences are something that holds you back. You gotta go over. It’s an obstacle."
Some vendors were simply selling rummage sale-looking items of used clothing and shoes. Others had retail shelf items like unopened packs of batteries, Advil, packages of coffee, and the occasional bottle of liquor.
A vendor identifying herself as Pinky said to Mission Local, "I went out and got stuff from the free list, or donations, or things people have given me. I really try not to shoplift if at all possible."
Folks, that is a statement that has a little wiggle room.
And unsurprisingly, one of those shady COVID testing sites offering $5 cash to take a test had also set up tent at the corner on Thursday morning,
Some barriers were also erected on the northeast corner of 16th and Mission streets, but there are no barriers set up on either corner of the western side of the intersection.
For better or worse, the barriers have driven some vending further down Mission Street. The area available at 16th and Mission can only accommodate a couple of these larger tent-and table operations, so some have moved to less congested areas.
And meanwhile, the situation remains the same at the 24th Street BART Plaza. The barriers around the McDonald’s at the southeast corner of the intersection seem to have done the trick. The more vendor-heavy northeast corner of the intersection still has a fair amount of vending most days, but often has an SFPD cruiser stationed there, and has a higher percentage of clearly licensed vendors selling flowers and aguas frescas.
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist