Antique fair owner files claim against city

A woman who spent almost a decade hosting an antique and trinket fair at U.N. Plaza but had her market stripped from her by the Board of Supervisors is fighting back with a $1 million claim against The City.

Berkeley resident Mary Millman lost her permit Thursday and she is asking for $100,000 for “each of the ten years I developed and operated a public outdoor market in San Francisco” in the claim.

Last month, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 to approve Mayor Gavin Newsom’s resolution to revoke her right to charge vendors to set up shop in a space that is blocks from City Hall.

The City will now attempt to run its own market, a prospect that the Real Estate Division claims will reap hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Millman warned supervisors, however, that The City probably cannot make more than $500,000 per year by renting out the space.

The Real Estate Division is also planning to hire at least two city employees to help run the fair.

Officials pointed out that in the past two years, Millman hasn’t paid rent. Millman said the Recreation and Park Department stopped accepting her checks, and she would be glad to pay any money owed.

“For years we had someone making money on city property without paying a penny,” said Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who voted to reject Millman’s permit. “This is not a personal issue; this is about business.”

Several supporters have already spoken out against revoking Millman’s permit, saying the small marketplace, which is held three times per week, is a vibrant alternative to the rampant drug dealing and homeless that frequent U.N. Plaza.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who voted for Millman to keep her permit, said The City didn’t properly manage the rental relationship and now a small business owner is paying for it.

“If you look at U.N. Plaza just being a drug and crime zone over the years, to me the market’s value has been priceless,” Dufty said.

“It’s a shame they’re being tossed.”

Millman’s market is not to be confused with the farmers market, which operates on different days, but the battle is similar to a recent attempt to revoke the permit of the nonprofit agency that runs it. The Board of Supervisors did not approve a resolution revoking that permit.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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