Fixing Our State Vending Laws

London Breed
4 min readNov 27, 2023

The selling of stolen goods on our street has become a serious problem over the last few years and more recently has created a dangerous environment for residents, permitted vendors, and City workers. We’ve been working to address this through continued educational outreach and a number of new strategies, including setting up a new permitting system and increasing enforcement in problem areas like UN Plaza and the Mission.

I am working right now on state legislation along with other mayors from across the state that will change state law. Our goal is to do two things. The first is to continue to allow those permitted vendors who are selling food or homemade goods to still be able to do so legally and safely. The second is to allow the Police Department to have the tools to better enforce against those selling goods that are stolen.

Today we are beginning a temporary enforcement ban on street vending in the Mission because the problem has gotten out of control there. We want to support the legitimate vendors who are just trying to make a living, and who have done the work to apply and receive a permit. Starting today, we have set up two temporary marketplaces for permitted vendors to sell their goods.

But to be clear, this is only a temporary solution. What we are dealing with is not something that just popped up overnight and it will require significant changes. And that starts with looking back at the laws that were put in place at the state level five years ago that has us where we are today.

What Changed in 2018

Five years ago, state lawmakers led by legislators from Southern California, put together a state law to protect, mostly immigrant food vendors in Southern California from being criminalized. This was a well-intentioned law meant to support entrepreneurs who were trying to make a living. By removing law enforcement from issues around street vending, we could encourage and support vendors who feared being targeted for their immigration status.

This is an intent that we support. However, a well-intentioned law doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good law. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the impacts of how these laws play out until they are put in place.

As written this law has provided a shield for criminal actors, and those selling stolen goods on our street. It does so by removing the police department from enforcing any vending laws on our streets. While this makes sense for food vendors, it doesn’t work for those who are breaking the law stealing from our stores, stealing from construction sites and selling goods on our streets. It’s creating chaotic scenes in our neighborhoods, leading to violence at times, and it isn’t working for our neighborhoods.

It’s time for this law to change to better serve our communities.

Laws Can Support Permitted Vending and Promote Safety

This isn’t just happening in San Francisco. Over the last several months, I’ve been talking to mayors across the state, and they agree. They want to see legitimate food, vendors, and those selling homemade goods be able to get permits, and to sell those goods in our public spaces free of harassment and free of dangers that surround the selling of illegal goods.

A well-intentioned law can be amended to meet those intentions, while also keeping our residents, small businesses, and workers safe. And that’s what we intend to do. We are currently drafting legislation right now that we’re going to take to Sacramento at the beginning of the next legislative session that begins in January. If we’re successful in pushing these changes through over several months, this law will go into effect in January 2025.

In the short-term, while we pursue these law changes, we will continue to aggressively enforce street vending permits, and do what we can under our existing laws to keep our public spaces clean and safe for everyone. We will rely on efforts like the one we are employing in the Mission. We can have a healthy and vibrant street vending community without having to support and shield those who are breaking our laws.

Tiangue Marketplace, located at 2137 Mission Street, will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and accommodate up to 50 vendors.

I encourage people to support our permitted vendors by visiting our two new temporary spaces that are now open:

  • Tiangue Marketplace — The formerly empty storefront will accommodate up to 50 vendors. The marketplace located at 2137 Mission Street will open daily from 10:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m. starting on Monday, November 27th.
  • La Placita — The outdoor parking lot operated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will be repurposed to accommodate up to nine permitted street vendors. Located on 24th Street, between Capp and Lilac Streets, the space will be open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m. The space will officially open on Tuesday, November 28th.

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