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Mayor’s latest drug crackdown plan: Close Tenderloin stores earlier

A group gathers at night outside a brightly lit shop, with some on foot and others on bikes.
People gather at an unofficial night market outside of Plaza Snack & Deli near Seventh and Market streets. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Mayor London Breed is proposing new legislation that would force some stores in the Tenderloin to close earlier—and impose $1,000 fines every hour for those that don’t comply.

If passed by the Board of Supervisors, the ordinance would require liquor stores, smoke shops and corner markets to close from midnight to 5 a.m. in “a small area of the Tenderloin,” the Mayor’s Office said in a press release Tuesday.

Breed alleges these late-night retail shops in the Tenderloin are attracting illegal behavior and undermining the city’s progress in breaking up drug markets. The curfew would be in place for one year under a pilot program if approved.

“Tenderloin residents, businesses, and workers deserve safe streets not just during the day, but also at night,” Breed said in a statement. “The drug markets happening at night in this neighborhood are unacceptable and must be met with increased law enforcement and new strategies.”

The enforcement, led by the Department of Public Health and carried out by the San Francisco Police Department, would cost business owners a $1,000 fine for every hour they operate after midnight. The curfew wouldn’t apply to restaurants, bars or event halls. The enforcement zone would exist between O’Farrell and McAllister and from Polk to Jones.

Corner store operators expressed outrage when The Standard reported last month that the city was considering legislation to force them to close earlier. They argued that the city is passing the blame for the street conditions by punishing law-abiding business owners.

“The problem is the drugs, not the stores,” Ameer Ahmed, who has worked at the Hyde & Turk Market for three years, previously told The Standard.

Ahmed said he was concerned that reducing hours could cost him his job.

A crowd of people on the streets outside of a convenience store at night.
People congregate at an unofficial night market near United Nations Plaza. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

“If I don’t have a job, what do I do?” he said. “I’d have to go to the street to make money.”

However, other community members say there is an abundance of stores subsisting almost exclusively off the business of drug dealers and users.

“There are pockets in the Tenderloin where stores who operate 24/7 which are creating unsafe sidewalks in and around their location,” Gregg Johnson, a Tenderloin resident, said in a statement provided by Breed’s office. “It is going to take an ‘out of the box’ approach in dealing with this situation.”

David Sjostedt can be reached at