Fence around San Francisco BART station fails to quell illegal street vending

Work remains underway to clear illegal vendors from around a San Francisco BART station.

Even with a new fence around the plaza of the 24th Street station, there are still plenty of vendors in the area.

The fence has restricted the amount of space around the station where illegal vendors peddle their wares, but on Friday there were still plenty of people selling everything from household goods to drug paraphernalia.

The Department of Public Works said it's working to come to the area just about every day to clear out vendors and to make sure there's a clear path along the sidewalk.

"So we have inspectors out there to make sure that the public right of way has passage for people," said Rachel Gordon from the department."You can't just go on a very narrow sidewalk or no sidewalk at all and be able to go down safely."

Santiago Lerma from Supervisor Hillary Ronen's office said Ronen asked BART to fence off the area because while the effort has gotten underway to clear illegal vendors from the area, there has been an influx of them.

"So, what we hope this will do is put people on notice that coming here to sell small stolen goods is not appropriate anymore," said Lerma.

BART riders and residents said they're happy the fence has gone up and that there are efforts to crack down on illegal sale. However, some vendors who've been there for years said they're worried.

Ismael Sanchez Marquez said he obtained paperwork over the years to sell around the BART station.

He's frustrated with trying to keep up with the changing bureaucracy and says he doesn't want to get swept up in the efforts to clear the area of bad actors.

In Spanish he said, "The only thing we want is that they not remove us because we have always had everything legal, we are not selling stolen things we have invoices for all the products and we have proof that we have been here for since 2015 for almost eight years."

Lerma said plans are underway to drive out the illegally obtained goods, while developing a permitting plan for more legitimate vendors.

"This permit process is also to create economic opportunity for legitimate vendors and to provide them with an orderly space for them to be in."

The city is currently working on that permitting process for the legitimate vendors and hopes to have that in place by next month.