SAN FRANCISCO – For 42 years, the United Nations Plaza in San Francisco has played host to one of the city’s most popular farmers markets. But when they reopen on Sunday, it will be in a new location.
The market began in 1981 when then-Governor Jerry Brown began pushing for the elimination of so-called “food deserts” in poor areas. And although the U.N. Plaza Farmers Market has become an institution for its loyal shoppers over the years, farmer Nick Cipponeri said it has faced challenging times before.
“This farmers market, we struggled before Covid, throughout Covid. Through the open-air drug market, it was open. And then the market finally came back, and here we are again doing record sales , and then we get 30 days’ notice that we’re relocating,” he said.
Wednesday was the last day of the market at the original location. Operations are being moved across the street to a parking lot that crews have been struggling to build. Officials say they are cleaning up the United Nations Plaza in an effort to rid it of the open-air drug use that occurs during the week when the market is not open. To generate more public activity at the site, plans have been initiated for the establishment of a skate park and court space for the sport. Opponents say they have been told that bricks from the iconic plaza will be uprooted and stored if needed in the future.
“Why all of a sudden? All these different changes are unnecessary,” said shopper and Tenderloin resident Debra Kops. “You’re going to put skateboarding here? You can put it there! Why change something that’s good? Like, everything that’s good in this neighborhood comes…the system wants to take it away.”
It’s across the street, but the venue is very small, and farmers who typically sell in several tents may only have room for one. And their trucks have to be taken to some undisclosed location. The city took action without any input from farmers or customers, so on Wednesday, they gathered to present their ideas about the new location.
“Come on guys. No bonds! No water! No lights at 4:00 in the morning!” said loyal shopper and SF resident Liza Murawski. “Forty-two years! Look at this event…the trucks, the organization, the people!”
A worker named Miss Sis was selling from a place under four umbrellas. She said that her boss is unlikely to return to the new position. “She doesn’t intend to drive five hours to a tent,” he added. “What can she fit into one tent? Look… she’s missing three tentacles! No business for her!”
Afterwards, protesters marched down the street to City Hall for a rally on the front steps. The suspicion is that the city is worried about being embarrassed when world leaders arrive for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November. Addressing the crowd, Supervisor Aaron Peskin made it clear that he had no doubt what was behind it.
“I understand APEC is coming, but this is not the way to go about it!” Peskin said. “Listen, we all know the United Nations (Plaza) has its challenges, but it’s like bombing a village to save it. It’s one of the things that works, that we need to maintain and uplift.” is required!”
The market will reopen on Sunday at its new location. How many vendors would be willing to occupy the new space is yet to be decided
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