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San Francisco to Begin Crackdown on Illegal Street Vendors

The city of San Francisco on Tuesday will begin enforcing a new law cracking down on illegal street vending.

On Monday, final warnings and notices were issued on 24th and Mission streets, just one of the areas local officials are targeting to curb illegal vending. But some say enforcing the new law targets specific communities.

The new legislation was passed several months ago and has been enforced sporadically. But on Tuesday, the goal was to rid areas like the Mission’s 24th Street BART plaza of illegal vendors, getting lawbreakers off the streets, reducing open air drug market and cracking down on thieves selling from brick and mortar businesses.

The problem of enforcement, however, is there are legitimate small businesses that for a long time have sold their goods, and they are the ones some advocacy groups say are getting caught in the middle.

Activists have protested against the permit program, saying it will criminalize poor people of color. But local officials say otherwise. Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who co-authored the legislation, has called the problem “incredibly complex” but has said on Twitter that the illegal vending has become untenable and is causing problems for the whole neighborhood.

“It infuriates me to see a once beautiful and vibrant community space overrun by open-air drug markets and vendors selling stolen goods,” Ronen said in July.

Vendors can apply for a permit for $430, a fee that will be waived if they make less than 200% of federal poverty level (under $25,760); if they received Medi-Cal, food stamps or a free Muni pass; or if they are a nonprofit.

Those who don’t have a permit, could have their goods confiscated for up to 90 days. The first-violation fine will be $250 and can go up to $1,000 for a third violation.

San Francisco police officers will be accompanying Public Works crews during Tuesday’s crackdown.

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Source: NBC Bay Area

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