New markets could be boon to Rec and Park revenue

Tourists strolling on the blankets of sand in Civic Center Plaza, snapping photos of historic City Hall, could be opening up their wallets more often as they acquire trinkets.

Ideally, more public markets will pop up in three sightseer hubs — at the plaza across from City Hall, Justin Herman Plaza and the parking lot of Candlestick Park — and earn the Recreation and Park Department up to $150,000 annually. And that was called a conservative number by Rec and Park Property Manager Lev Kushner.

The booths would be more boutique-esque, not like a flea market with secondhand items, but instead handmade and other sustainable products only sold by locals.

They also could be healthy competition for managers of the flea market across the street from Civic Center Plaza, or the street vendors who for years have been soliciting on The Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Joe D’Alessandro said.

“Competition is not always the worst thing. It often encourages them to work harder,” D’Alessandro said. “I think when visitors come from outside the area, they really do like to find the local experience.”

But that is not what San Francisco street vendors who have been selling their handmade jewelry, hats and other collectibles near The Embarcadero for decades are saying.

“I don’t see how either one of us could make money off of this,” Street Artists Liaison Committee Chairman Michael Addario said. “They’d be selling essentially the same things we are. We would like them to rescind this.”

Rec and Park staff refined its request for proposals for months and has already approved it and posted it online.

However, Rec and Park Director Phil Ginsburg has said the idea is still in the preliminary stages and now the department has to wait for a company to bite.

The Small Business Office and the Small Business Commission wrote a letter to Rec and Park commissioners strongly recommending the markets.

The proposal deadline is March 26.

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