Trash clean-up in the Mission District. Photo by Yujie Zhou. Taken Feb 26, 2022.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen will unveil a far-reaching “Mission Plan” on Wednesday, aimed at addressing the district’s persistent problems with trash, street vending, fires, and homelessness. It’s a pilot plan that will last six months.

Ronen’s initiative comes two months after Mayor London Breed announced the Tenderloin Emergency Plan, which controversially mobilized city resources to reduce overdose deaths and crime in that neighborhood.

“As the mayor and the city are really focused on the Tenderloin, we feel like the Mission has gotten even worse and has been left behind,” Ronen said in an interview. “So, we have worked with city departments to create our own plan.”

The Mission has reached what Ronen’s office called a “breaking point.” Business owners have left because of streets littered with garbage and needles; residents are sick of picking up trash thrown outside their houses, and have paid others to do the dirty work for them. 

“Street conditions in the Mission are unacceptable,” the plan states. “Sidewalks are unpassable, litter and trash plague the neighborhood, and San Franciscans experiencing homelessness are living in unhealthy and unsafe conditions on the streets.”

Trash and ‘gravity bins

As part of the initiative, the Department of Public Works and Recology, the private company responsible for collecting garbage, have agreed to increase trash collections to more than twice a day along the Mission commercial corridor between 14th and 25th streets. Recology will also provide Mission businesses with “gravity bins,” trash cans designed to prevent people from rummaging through them. 

Public Works teams will focus on clearing trash from hot spots, such as the commercial corridors and Garfield Park. The city has also committed to cleaning up 1979 Mission St., the future site of 330 affordable units at the 16th Street Plaza.

Street vendors

Ronen’s plan also complements proposed street-vendor legislation that she sponsors with Supervisor Ahsha Safai and Mayor London Breed, which cracks down on street vendors who sell “stolen goods” who don’t have permits. 

Along Mission Street, especially near the 24th and 16th Street BART Plazas, street vendors sell a wide range of goods: hot dogs, shampoo, DVDs. But business owners say street vendors and open-air markets interfere with their permitted businesses and trash the sidewalk, and some block the entryways to their shops and restaurants.

Ronen said illegal markets harm “primarily Latino owned mom-and-pop businesses on Mission that pay their business registration fees, that pay taxes, that are barely hanging on, barely made it through the pandemic.” They “now are telling us that people will not come to their stores because there is a full, unorderly street market of, let’s be honest, majority stolen goods,” she said. Her office did not provide data that showed how much of the street-vendor products are stolen. 

Mayor London Breed drew backlash for cracking down on unpermitted Latinx hot-dog vendors at Union Square weeks shy of her Tenderloin Emergency Initiative announcement. The street vendor legislation, which will be heard by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday, also prohibits unpermitted vending at UN Plaza, where elderly Asian immigrants sell canned goods. 

Ronen said her goal is to stop people from selling stolen goods, not punish immigrant street vendors. She said the plan protects “immigrants who own brick-and-mortar shops,” while “providing opportunities for street vendors to be regulated and to make some extra money.”

Ronen’s office said the plan will tap trusted Mission community organizations to help educate vendors about the permit registration and process in their language. Vendors who cannot show a permit in 48 hours could be fined $100 for their first infraction, but may be able to reduce it if they cannot pay, under the street vendor proposal. 

The Mission Plan also includes a proposal to create an indoor flea market to give street vendors a place to sell their wares, and is discussing using a vacant Mission Street storefront to host the market.

Encampment fires

The initiative also addresses fires in homeless encampments, which unhoused people may set to keep warm or cook food. The San Francisco Fire Department has agreed to work with Public Works to identify items in encampments that could spark debris fires, focusing on areas where fires are frequently set. The plan does not say how often such inspections will occur. 

In February alone, one blaze that started from debris displaced more than 20 tenants and a restaurant, Taqueria Los Coyotes. Another fire threatened Mission Neighborhood Health Centers, and last week, a woman died in an uncontrolled encampment fire under the 280 freeway in Glen Park

More beds

Ronen’s plan also tries to address the biggest challenge facing the Mission and the city: Helping more unhoused residents move off the streets and into permanent housing. Roughly 8,000 people lived on San Francisco streets in 2019, and approximately 260 lived in the Mission. Volunteers conducted another count last week, with results expected this summer. 

As part of Ronen’s initiative, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing has committed to reopening 53 beds at Jazzie’s Place and Santa Maria Shelters this spring. 

The Healthy Streets Operation Center (HSOC) team, which works with the city’s unhoused residents, will increase its patrols, visiting the Mission “multiple times a week” to connect people to a multitude of resources. 

“If they’re not able to convince people to get inside, which is obviously the first and foremost goal, at least [HSOC can] clean around those encampments so they don’t get excessive with the amount of trash,” Ronen said.

Homeless advocates have criticized efforts aimed at clearing encampments, arguing that such initiatives don’t help people move off the streets. Ronen acknowledged that the plan may not solve all of the problems on the Mission’s streets, but she says it represents an important step forward. “We want a commitment to address conditions on the street that are new,” she said. 

Executive editor Lydia Chávez contributed to this report.

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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17 Comments

  1. Will the crackdown on unpermitted vendors include the Pancake Guy in Bernal? I know he’s not selling, but it’s still illegal (just ask Food Not Bombs).

  2. Well, at least it’s something. Garfield Park is trashed daily by the gamblers and their drinking but God forbid the park police stop the illegal activity. It’s laughable when park rangers order dogs off the field from their patrol car parked in front of men drinking beer, gambling and trashing the park. The official reason they do nothing: the sidewalk is police territory!

  3. How about cleaning up the tents, trash, and fires around the 1515 S Van Ness development site? We would have had a mixed income apartment building there 5 years ago if Ronen hadn’t gotten involved. But instead, Ronen got the city to buy it and turned it into a navigation center for “one year”. Of course one year became 4 and instead of 150 apartments, we have a completely blighted block. Good luck even trying to walk on the sidewalk on that block. I’ve seen so many sidewalk fires there, it’s only a matter of time before there is a structure fire. Great job Ronen!

    1. Correction! There has been a recent sweep around 1515 S Van Ness and it’s clean. Of course now across the street on Shotwell and next to the gas station look like disaster areas. I’d still rather have seen the apartment building (that was 40-50% affordable housing) get built 5 years ago which is what would have happened if Ronen did nothing.

  4. What if we all take up a collection to bribe Mohammed Nuru and/or his successor? Counting on DPW and Recology to do their jobs is like Charlie Brown expecting Lucy to hold the football.

  5. Battery powered grinders being sold on sidewalks need to be treated as the burglary tools that they are. Ain’t nobody doing that much grinding.

  6. This plan needs to incorporate and enforce a buffer zone between encampments and structures for fire prevention.

  7. Like the homeless problem, It’s a day late and a dollar short. I believe these situations have gone to far and have ruined our neighborhood beyond repair.

  8. With all the loopholes and exceptions, this “initiative” will be ineffective. But it will sure give Ronen a political talking point. Waste of time.

  9. Healthy Streets Operation Center (HSOC) team, does not work with the city’s unhoused residents. They traumatize people forcing them to move and often stealing and destroying their property. I have observed this behaviour in several districts. They have virtually no resources to offer people–only an occasional shelter bed which most people do not find acceptable.

  10. Campers,

    Somewhere God is laughing.

    I pick up bags and tongs Sunday morning at Manny’s and Clean Clarion Alley cause I’m a Lefty and it’s a commie mural gallery from Valencia to Mission.

    Couple weeks ago I worked double time and finished whole Gallery.

    3 heavy bags of trash.

    Took em to rear dock of business where front desk had agreed to take em and replace my cat litter.

    People on dock threatened to have me arrested for leaving bags there.

    No kitty litter either.

    Hey, I’m Irish and when things get this absurd we just laugh.

    You can pick up trash here but you really have to want to.

    Way to ‘push that snowball up the hill against the avalanche’ Supe Ronen and Sean Elsbernd too.

    h,

  11. What is the status of the permitted and supported tent camping site at 26th and Shotwell? Why isn’t this program being expanded? There are a bunch of empty lots (2649 Folsom St, 22nd and Mission.) Encampments have been going on for months – looking at the other corner of 26th and Shotwell. If we’re at the point where we’re allowing tent camping in the city, let’s do it where folks can have access to bathrooms and showers. It is beyond time to get folks off the sidewalks. Shotwell/Folsom/Treat and the side streets have become a slum.

  12. Clean all those vendors on 24th and mission by bart station and those other people that takes their stuff out of their stores there no way to walk on the sidewalks anymore

  13. Can your office coordinate a couple of zoom community forums with the departments/organizations that will implement your plan? Can you address the concerns your constituents have already expressed and explain how the plan will solve these issues? Action plans need to be operational and explained to us. We need to be informed to become part of the solution. We need your guidance and leadership about how to proceed to improve our situation on a day-to-day basis. Thank You.

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