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SF grocery store shut down for rats. Owner blames bird seed-dropping neighbor

A screenshot of Google Street View of Canyon Market at 2815 Diamond Street in San Francisco.

A Glen Park grocery store was shut down Wednesday after evidence of a rat infestation was flagged by the city’s Health Department.

Canyon Market co-owner Janet Tarlov blames a nearby neighbor who has been spreading bird seed around the area since February 2020. 

Tarlov said that rats have been an ongoing issue because of the bird seed and that she has begged the city to help deal with the pests for more than two years.

“It’s not been a hidden thing, I’ve been seeking guidance from the Health Department for two and a half years,” said Tarlov.

Tarlov is president of the Glen Park Merchants’ Association and says that she often has to clean up the bird seed herself.

“I just cleaned it up yesterday,” said Tarlov on Thursday. “I clean it up everyday. It’s the first thing I do in the morning.”

Tarlov said that an inspector from the Department of Public Health came in response to an anonymous 311 complaint about rats in her store. 

According to a copy of the 311 complaint provided by DPH, the complaint was made on Sept. 26 and notes a “persistent rat infestation” and “signs of damage” including chewed through food packages and droppings.

Tarlov said that the inspector observed rat droppings in the store and immediately shut it down.

“I complain 100 times and nothing happens and then someone complains once and the store gets shut down,” said Tarlov.

DPH said in a statement that an inspector saw rat droppings on shelves, floors and on top of food. They also found holes for rats to get through and chewed food packages. 

Tarlov claims the store has lost between $50,000 and $100,000 due to contaminated food that had to be thrown out, repairing chewed wires, damaged walls and cleaning costs.

DPH said they can reopen the store Thursday or as soon as the store is thoroughly cleaned, entry points for rats are plugged and that it has proof of a licensed pest control service.

Tarlov said she is cleaning the store and hopes that she can reopen immediately.

“We just want to get the store open and put this whole thing behind us,” said Tarlov.

Local Supervisor Rafael Mandelman confirmed the owner contacted his office.

He said that the resident spreading bird seed should be told to cease and desist.

“I feel there should be some compensation because she’s been pushing for this for years,” said Mandelman. “It’s a sad and frustrating story.”