A video posted on Instagram Monday shows a man wearing a San Francisco Public Works vest running full-tilt towards a hot dog vendor and flipping over his hot dog cart, spilling its goods onto the sidewalk.
The video showing the incident, uploaded by activist and project director Edin Alex Enamorado, took place near Pier 39, a popular spot for food vendors. It shows the food vendor pulling a hot dog cart and jogging away from a city worker, who is wearing a fluorescent vest.
The city worker chases down the vendor and flips over his cart, sending onions, bell peppers, hot dogs and buns to the ground.
The city worker then steps over the scattered produce, tossing a tray and pack of buns back onto the cart, before abandoning the mess he created.
It is unclear what precipitated the incident. Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for Public Works, released a statement Tuesday confirming that the worker was a street inspector and saying the incident was still under investigation.
She apologized for the worker’s actions, however, and said the department “will take appropriate action” when the investigation is completed.
“We are continuing the investigation into the incident on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023,” it read. “While we are still looking into what led up to that moment and the events that preceded, we strive to treat members of the public with respect during permit enforcement operations. In this circumstance, we did not meet that threshold and we apologize.”
Vendor ordinances spearheaded by District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen in 2022 allowed for Public Works to enforce permitting against unpermitted street vendors, but guidelines directed city workers to ask vendors for proof of a permit, and to instruct those without permits on how to obtain one.
In 2022, Gordon said that “those selling goods in the public right-of-way without a permit are given an opportunity to pack up and leave.”
Senate Bill 972, which went into effect in January 2023, decriminalized sidewalk vending in California, with the exception of allowing city officials to “criminally enforce against food vendors operating on private property.”
The video shows the vendor operating on public property. It is unclear if the vendor was given the opportunity to pack up and leave, but city law does not allow for direct inference with the goods themselves, unless they are deemed to be stolen or illicit.
“We train our employees in de-escalation techniques with the goal of diffusing tense situations. In this circumstance, we did not meet that threshold and we apologize,” the statement continued. “Once the investigation is concluded, we will take appropriate action, in accordance with the City’s employee policies and procedures.”
This story has been updated with the Department of Public Works’ statement on Tuesday regarding the incident.