Night Markets coming to SF's Sunset District this fall

City leaders from San Francisco are hoping to activate the city in the evenings by hosting night markets in the Sunset District. Night markets are similar to farmers' markets but with music, games and entertainment, and there is legislation in the works to make the nighttime activity more common.

San Francisco's Irving Street bustles with activity, and now Supervisor Joel Engardio says he wants to extend that activity into the evening, helping to launch a pilot program for a night market this fall. "Yes, we need more public safety," said Supervisor Engardio. "We need to revive our local economy and guess what? A night market helps us accomplish those goals. A night market brings people together, it makes streets safer and it gives small businesses a boost." 

Organizers say they're already working with neighbors to head off any complaints about music or entertainment.

Theresa Tom runs The Mochi Donut Shop on Irving, and says the idea of a market running down the middle of the street at night, drawing shoppers and people looking for a sweet treat is a welcome idea. She says the pilot market set to run from five in the evening to 10 at night will extend her operating hours by about three hours, adding to her bottom line. "It definitely is an opportunity for our team to participate and it's good exposure too," said Tom. "It'll be a good time for us."

Supervisor Engardio says he was inspired after a trip to Taipei with his husband and seeing night markets there. He says the night market along Irving is set to start September 15 and will invigorate business. "We're putting the booths in the middle of the street," said Supervisor Engardio. "So people when they're walking are walking along the booths they're also walking along the businesses and they're flowing in between so the businesses are benefiting from this. 40:10 and that's what you see when you're at a night market in Taipei."

Plans are already in the works to expand the idea. Supervisor Engardio says opening the night market was challenging because he had to secure state permits, so he reached out to San Francisco Assemblyman Matt Haney. At a news conference featuring celebrity chef Martin Yan, of PBS' Yan Can Cook, Assemblyman Haney said he's working to introduce legislation to streamline the process for permitting night markets and farmers markets. "AB 441 The Farmers' Market and Night Market Creation Bill will for the first time create a specific permit that will ask for an entire year for both farmers' markets and night markets," said Assemblyman Haney.

The legislation to streamline the process of having a night market is set to be introduced this week. The hope is the idea will proliferate here in the city of San Francisco, and throughout the state.


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