Severe rules relaxed for antique sales

Godofredo Vasquez/Special to the S.F. ExaminerLegislation will relax some of the rules antique and second-hand shop owners must follow after store they complained they were being treated unfairly.

San Francisco will stop treating secondhand stores like criminal enterprises after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation Tuesday doing away with several rules designed to discourage the fencing of stolen goods.

The legislation’s author, Supervisor Scott Wiener, said the requirements had treated all sellers of secondhand merchandise “as if they were the worst kind of pawn shops or, frankly, criminal enterprises.”

Shop owners had complained that The City’s $1,500 permit fee and requirements — such as undergoing criminal background checks, fingerprinting and reporting daily logs of items sold and whom they sold them to — treated them unfairly and were too onerous to comply with.

And Tuesday, shopkeepers such as Christopher Albanese, the owner of Antiquario on Market Street, or Angie Petitt-Taylor, co-owner of Cole Valley Antiques, got the news they were looking for after calling on The City to wipe the regulations from the books.  

San Francisco police had warned that eliminating the existing requirements could impede criminal investigations.

In a compromise, Wiener’s legislation will require secondhand dealers who sell items with “a higher likelihood of being stolen or resold” to pay for a $200 permit and keep a record of those items. The list of such goods includes electronics, firearms, valuable jewelry and watches, precious stones, musical instruments, silver utensils and items with serial numbers.

The legislation entirely eliminates the permit requirements for antique stores, vintage clothing stores, and used book and furniture stores.

“It will make it easier for people to begin and to run interesting neighborhood businesses that sell secondhand goods,” Wiener said.

San Francisco is home to 275 secondhand dealers, including two authorized to resell firearms, according to the Police Department.  The fees generate about $277,000 and pay for fingerprinting, background checks and administrative costs.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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