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Mobile Retailers Face Formal Regulations in SF

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Video via Vimeo via Alchemy Creative

The growing demand for mobile business permits is forcing SF city officials to look more closely at mobile retail regulations. Brick-and-mortar retail stores complain that these retail trucks block storefronts, congest traffic and commandeer parking (much like the arguments of restaurants against food trucks). But retail trucks continue to hawk goods regardless of the restriction against mobile retail on public streets (i.e. at Castro and 18th).

As we reported back in February, the Small Business Commission (SBC) began work on regulations to legalize, and control, mobile retail. Seven months later, specific details are beginning to surface. Christian Murdock, a business case manager for the SBC, explained to the SF Examiner that up to three mobile vendors will be allowed from 6 to 10pm Mondays through Sundays. The retail trucks will also be allowed to park on side street corridors but not in front of businesses.

Additionally, the mobile retail regulations will work to address parking concerns and to specify the types of commerce that will be sanctioned. For example, dog grooming, shoe repair and clothing sales will be allowed, but a variety of businesses will be left out, including medical marijuana dispensaries and the sellers of secondhand goods.

The proposal has yet to pass approval by the West Coast Mobile Retail Association, the SF-based, national trade group promoting the mobile business industry. For comparison, similar regulations for food trucks involved two years of back-and-forth arguments before being approved. Perhaps it's because of the ongoing regulations headache that the first wave of retail trucks have set up permanent shops around town: TopShelf Boutique (SF's first fashion truck) has a storefront at the Crocker Galleria and only operates the truck for special events. So buckle up, this may be a bumpy ride.
· Many questions remain in San Francisco's effort to regulate mobile retailers [The San Francisco Examiner]
· Mobile Fashion Trucks May Get Regulated (Better Than Illegal) [Racked SF]