The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an ordinance that prohibits so-called “chop shops” of bicycles and bicycle parts from operating on the city’s sidewalks.

After a heated debate, the board voted 9-2 to approve the legislation.

“This legislation is about clearing sidewalks and not having illegal businesses on sidewalks,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who sponsored the proposal.

The ordinance would “prohibit the assembly, disassembly, sale, offer of sale, distribution, offer of distribution, or storage of bicycles and bicycle parts on the public right-of-ways.”  

In other words, those nests of bikes and bike parts found on city streets will be cleared away if the ordinance approved today makes it through a second vote and gets the mayor’s signature.

The ordinance gives the Department of Public Works the authority to clear the sidewalks of the chop shops and hand the operator a notice. The person who receives the notice can later reclaim the parts — if nobody saying they are the owner claims them in 30 days.

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district encompasses the Mission, voted against the ordinance, saying it fails to address the root of the problem: homelessness.

If poor people are fixing bikes on street because don’t have another place [to do it], it’s not a problem —  it’s poverty,” she said. “To me this is taking away resources from an already burdened DPW.”

Ronen said that Mission Station Captain Bill Griffin told her police already have the means to confiscate bikes from sidewalks.

“What added benefit does this legislation bring to dealing with horrible problem of bike theft?” she asked.

But Sheehy said the ordinance was primarily meant to clear public right-of-ways.

Even if parts are taken off streets for 30 days, that means for at least 30 days people can use sidewalks for what they’re supposed to be used for,” he said.

District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, whose district encompassing the Bayview and Potrero Hill also struggles with encampments and chop shops, voted for the ordinance.

We need a multi-pronged approach,” Cohen said. “This is one vehicle that will help us clear obstruction on sidewalks.”

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. I voted for Ronen. I have met her and think she has the best of intentions. Chop shops may be the result of poverty, but this doesn’t excuse the unchecked, illegal vending of STOLEN property that happens all over the city. I believe in a holistic approached that may ultimately address the wealth disparity created by unchecked capitalism, but in the meantime, some deference needs to be paid to social norms.

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  2. Hilary Ronen, just when I think she’s actually going to an improvement for the Mission she goes and votes against what is clearly needed legislation. Who can possibly think that they are ‘fixing bikes on the street’ … she’s delusional.

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  3. Uh hello Sup Ronen, that s@&! is stolen property! Drive by the encampment by UPS on Potrero and count the number of Ford GoBikes! Oh wait, the poor people needed to steal them so it’s all good.

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