California Bill Aims to Curb Illegal Street Vending of Stolen Goods


A new California bill aims to empower police to issue citations to individuals selling stolen items on the streets of San Francisco.

On Monday, state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat representing parts of San Francisco, introduced SB 925. This bill would grant police the authority to issue citations to those selling commonly stolen items without a permit. Joining Wiener at the announcement were San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott.

“If a person is cited twice for selling these commonly stolen items without a permit, they can be cited with a misdemeanor the third time,” Wiener explained.

Wiener’s bill mandates that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors create a list of commonly stolen items that are resold. The San Francisco Police Department would then need to reference this list before issuing a citation.

“This bill allows the police to be involved specifically around a certain list of items that are commonly stolen. This list will be developed based on the items we have confiscated in the past, and the police can issue citations in these cases, which could ultimately lead to a misdemeanor. This will relieve some pressure off public works staff whose job is to enforce permitted vending,” stated San Francisco Public Works Director Carla Short.

“SB 925 takes a focused surgical approach to illegal street fencing,” added Wiener. “We know these issues are most pronounced in areas such as the Mission, Tenderloin, South of Market, and a few other locations, but the city will be able to apply this law wherever necessary.”

Mayor Breed has been struggling with activists and state policies that complicate her efforts to enforce a ban on unlicensed street vendors.

Last November, Mission Street had to ban street vending due to chaotic conditions, which also impacted licensed vendors. SB 925 would empower SFPD to crack down on illegal sellers while allowing those with permits to continue their operations.

In April, the mayor, who is facing a tough reelection battle, criticized a 2018 law and associated civil rights and Latino advocacy groups for limiting her ability to enforce the ban. Instead of allowing police officers to address illegal vendors, the responsibility fell to the city’s public works officers, who felt uneasy about confronting them without police support.

“I’m grateful to be here with a strong coalition of people who want to ensure we protect and support our vendors while also addressing the illegal fencing that has disrupted the market for many long-time vendors,” Breed said at Wiener’s announcement.

The legislation is also well-received by the SFPD as they believe it will provide them with the tools needed to combat illegal street vending more assertively.

“It returns the ability to enforce laws on these types of markets to the police department, albeit with a very narrow focus,” Chief Scott stated. “This focuses on fencing and stolen goods, and it will allow us to be more proactive in addressing these markets.”

If approved, the law would take effect on Jan. 1.

Annabella Rosciglione
Annabella Rosciglione
Breaking News Reporter. Annabella is a graduate of UW-Madison where she worked at the Daily Cardinal reporting on Wisconsin politics.

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