Off the Grid Organizer Seeking Permits for Street-Food Markets in S.F. Parks

Chris MacArthur/SF Weekly
Rec and Park commissioners vote Thursday to allow Off the Grid-like markets in three city parks.
​The organizer of S.F.'s Off the Grid street-food market at Fort Mason Center could soon be rolling out similar events in three city parks. At Thursday's regularly scheduled meeting of Rec and Park, commissioners will consider whether to grant the San Francisco Cart Project permits to organize weekly mobile food markets at Mission Playground, in Golden Gate Park near the Haight, and at Civic Center Plaza. Public comment will be allowed.

SF Cart Project's Matt Cohen said that, if the seven-member commission approves his RFP, each venue could see regular street-food events. "They would all vary in size depending on safety, the interest of the community, and the actual space," Cohen said.

If approved, the permit would allow Cohen to organize weekly street-food events at Mission Playground on Saturdays from noon to dusk (up to eight vendors allowed). A closed-off stretch of Waller Street in Golden Gate Park could see mobile vendors Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to dusk, and Sundays between 2 p.m. and dusk (no more than 15 vendors allowed). And Joseph Alioto Performing Arts Plaza in Civic Center could host a mobile food market Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (up to five vendors).

"My goal is to expose as much of the city as possible to amazing street food," Cohen said. "What I've done is try to work with the parks to make that happen." Permitting for Off the Grid required Cohen to get approvals from the National Park Service, since Fort Mason Center is on federal land.

Rec and Park commissioners have the option to amend the RFP (meaning they could approve only one or two locations), or put it aside for a vote at a later date. The proposal calls for permits to expire at the end of October 2010, with a one-year extension possible. In the first year, the city would require the SF Cart Project to pay 40 percent of gross revenues from the combined markets. That would bump down to 35 percent in year two, as well as 25 percent of what the vendors pay to SF Cart Project to participate.

The public meeting takes place Thurs., July 15, at 2 p.m., City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, room 416.

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