Broke-Ass City: How Long Until San Francisco Becomes San Jose North?

If you stroll down Valencia Street on any given weekend day you’ll see a variety of different vendors selling their wares on the street. From cowboy boots to T-shirts, from records to vintage tchotchkes, there are all kinds of things to browse and buy.

Hell, a few months ago, I bought the most amazing and ridiculous dayglow psychedelic mu-mu you could ever imagine. It was a total score and has made a wonderful addition to my costume box.

Whether or not you’ve ever actually bought anything from these vendors, their existence is a part of Valencia’s allure. It allows the street to feel more like an open-air market and less like a mall. So it was a surprise to me when I ran into my buddy Amos Goldbaum on Sunday selling his apparel near Dolores Park instead of at his usual spot next to Rhea’s Deli.

“Yeah, they’ve started cracking down on street vendors,” he told me while a few passers-by checked out his hoodies. “They’ve even been giving out tickets.”

There’s a good chance you’ve seen Amos’ work whether on someone or on the street. His shirts and hoodies are generally dark colored fabric with famous San Francisco landmarks like Candlestick Park, or beautiful cityscapes, outlined in bright colors. His work is so popular that it’s getting hard to ride Muni without seeing someone wearing it.

“And it’s not like the cops want to do this,” he went on to tell me. “Every time one tells me to pack up and move, they apologize for having to do it.”

This can only mean that there are people actually calling the police and reporting the vendors. Some of them think it has to with all the upscale new businesses that have opened on Valencia, while others say it’s a few kooky old-timers. Regardless, this is the San Francisco we are now living in. First they chased out the naked people from the Castro. Next were the chess players on Market Street.

Now it’s the street vendors on Valencia.

I’m not saying that these are the things that make this San Francisco, but it does feel like these little bits of flair and character are rapidly being pushed away by a handful of people worried about their property value.

And street vending isn’t the only thing being cracked down on. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Dolores Park being a temporary autonomous zone and our cherished public space. And I predicted that, since the city spent so much money on improvements, they would be cracking down on the drinking and the smoking and the merriment that goes along with an afternoon in the park.

It would be a kind of shaking out of the riff-raff. Well apparently that has already begun.

I was told by some friends that last weekend, park rangers moved through Dolores ticketing people for open alcohol containers while the surrounding crowd of revelers booed and jeered.

What is going on in our fair city? What has happened to the permissiveness that has helped make San Francisco such and open and interesting place. How far will city officials bend to appease the loud whining of a small minority of wealthy people? I guess what I’m really asking is how long until we just become San Jose North?

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in The San Francisco Examiner.Bay Area NewsBroke-Ass StuartOaklandSan Francisco

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Changing zoning in San Francisco neighborhoods where single family homes prevail is crucial in the effort to achieve equity. (Shutterstock)
To make SF livable, single-family zoning must be changed

Let’s move to create affordable housing for working class families

Most Read