Ranger cites popsicle vendor at In Chan Kaajal Park.

A neighborhood ice cream vendor dodged a $192 fine this week with the help of Mission residents.  

The citation was reduced to a warning shortly after neighborhood activists angrily took to social media, saying that the citation was unfair — that In Chan Kaajal Park at 17th and Folsom was built for the community, and the vendor was doing no harm.

“We fought for eight years to get this park built for the people of this neighborhood. Now that it’s here [Rec and Park] has nothing better to do than stand around harassing and ticketing the ice cream man,” Nancy Pili, an educator at the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, tweeted.

Pili witnessed the ranger giving the paletero a ticket. She said she asked the ranger what the peddler was being cited for, and he replied “3.10,” parks code for “vending without a permit.”

In an email, Rec and Park spokeswoman Connie Chan said the ranger, Raul Garcia, “had previously warned the vendor, in both English and Spanish, that he was not allowed to sell without proper permits, including a health permit to ensure food safety.”

Unpermitted popsicle (and other treat) sales are common in the city’s parks, including at Dolores Park, which accounted for 38 percent of vending citations citywide last year.

Mission Local was unable to contact the paletero. His name was not immediately released by Rec and Park, though we have learned he purportedly goes by “Sanchez.”

On Thursday, Rec and Park contacted Pili on Instagram, saying that the vendor’s citation had been “downgraded.” 

Through the Department’s citation review process, the Chief Park Ranger downgraded the citation to a warning,” Chan confirmed.

In Chan Kaajal Park opened last June, the city’s first new park in a decade. For some 17 years, community members rallied to convert the former parking lot into a green space.

This is a community open space, and it’s inequitable to charge immigrant vendors at our parks,” said Merilyn Duran, a community organizer with PODER, a local environmental justice organization.

“It’s part of our community to have people vending on the street,” she said. “I mean, it’s ice cream.”

Duran said the incident highlights a double-standard in the Mission’s parks. She said she very frequently sees people letting their dogs run off-leash in parks. That’s the same level of offense under the park code, which says dogs cannot be off their leashes in public.  

“We’re not saying we hate dog owners,” she said. “We’re thinking about the disparities between folks being targeted and fined.”

Follow Us

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.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Glad they are enforcing the law. Unlicensed food Is dangerous to our community. If you want to buy potentially tainted high fructose corn syrup treats can’t you do so outside the park boundaries?

  2. The unequal enforcement of this law is so obvious it is disgusting. When was the last time you saw a bunch of white dudes selling weed, alcohol, pizza, beer etc. in the park get ticketed? How many tickets does the dude selling rum filled coconuts received?

  3. thank you Nancy Pili and Marilyn Duran! it’s so horrible they give fines to these hard working people!

  4. believe it or not, this is related to Trump’s tax plan. It’s a huge burden to start a business of any kind in California and the city of San Francisco specifically. Too many permits, regulations, etc.. that cost way too much money. If this Paletero registers like he is supposed to, he wil be subject to permits, fines, taxes, etc… He’s better off paying a fine once in a while vs. going legit and paying the legal fees.

    The only way to get out from under “the Man” is to be “The Man”. A lower coporate tax rate allows more individuals working for an asshole boss to go out on their own and open a business. If the corporate tax rate is 20% vs. 40%, it allows more working class folks to take the risk and become their own boss. This helps minorities the most as they don’t need to wait for the old white guy to promote them. Isn’t the best way to get minorities in power is to have them be the owners of businesses?

    Is Mission Local agreeing with Trump’s plan to lower corporate taxes?

  5. People who vend need to follow the law. It doesn’t matter how the park was formed or got started. Maybe requiring a health permit seems silly, but it won’t be very funny when one of your kids eats something bad or spoiled and gets really sick.

    I agree with enforcing dog leash laws too. If your dog is on a leash, and another dog is running free, that dog could come right up to your dog and rip it to shreds. What are you going to do? The rangers need to keep that sh*t tight.

  6. Thank you Nancy Pili and Marilyn Duran. Appreciate your broad minds of compassion and equity.

  7. The law is the law, and the Mission is fairly law-less when it comes to many things. I applaud the SFPD for taking action against unlicensed vendors in our public parks. Besides, there are negative health effects for high-fructose corn syrup consumption (let’s be honest, obesity is a huge problem for local youth) and demoralizing amount of trash discarded after consumption of these illegally-sold items.

  8. This is the legacy of Ed Lee. (RIP). The tech bros can do anything they want in Dolores Park. The dog owners let their animals tear up plants, leave waste, and break the rules, but let a hard working paletero in Chan Kaajal park and they’ve got a Latino toy cop giving him a $200 ticket. Its time to say that Ed Lee messed up San Francisco, and no streets or buildings should be named after him..