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Does San Francisco Street Vending Permit Enforcement Work?  Here’s what we discovered


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — It’s been several weeks since San Francisco began cracking down on street vendors, requiring them to have a permit to sell at the 24th Street BART Plaza. City officials say the program is working as people try to comply with the law.

What ABC7 News saw on Thursday seems to confirm that it’s the so-called “backpack peddling” that’s proving hard to stop.

The corner of 24th and Mission Streets in the Mission District has always been bustling with vendors selling goods. After the city required permits, the sidewalks now seem less crowded.

To date, the city has issued 49 permits. In almost all cases, the city waived the $430 fee.

RELATED: SF to crack down on illegal vendors in Mission District, ‘confiscate’ items

Vendors like Jose Escalante were more than happy to show us their permits.

“A lot of people are very happy that the city is finally doing something to restore some kind of order and system so that it’s not what it used to be. It’s chaos,” the San Francisco mayor said , London Breed.

But as we have seen, it is almost impossible to get everyone to comply. It is the street vendors who continue to break the law.

Rafael Gutierrez told ABC7 News he sees backpack vendors every day. Across the street we saw a man with a white cap trying to sell several pants with tags.

“Oh, he’s right there, still trying to sell stolen pants to Ross. Yeah, it’s a situation that goes on every day,” Gutierrez said.

VIDEO: Popular SF street outlet deserted on day 1 of permit application

We approached the young man selling these pants and asked him what he was trying to do with them.

“Oh my God, why me? he says as we identify ourselves. “Yeah, I’m trying to sell these pants.

We asked him if they had been stolen.

“I’m not going to do that, even if it’s hearsay in court. You know how it is in San Francisco. It’s a black market,” he said in his response.

One by one, sellers avoided interacting with ABC7 News, even showing us any type of bill of sale or permit.

RELATED: Video: Small explosion in unauthorized food cart at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

We asked one of the many to show us his license. “No, no, no, no, no,” he said as he walked away with the items he was trying to resell.

A third man asked us to see our police badges. We showed him our ABC7 press badge instead. “I have a permit, but I don’t have to show it to you,” was his last reply.

“There’s no way to stop people coming in and out, but we’ve seen a big difference. More people are staying out. There aren’t as many people coming in there, because we have inspectors and police monitoring the situation much more closely,” said Rachel Gordon of the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

Vendors who have had licenses for years say they just want a fair way to make a living.

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