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San Francisco Assemblymember Haney and Supervisor Engardio Announce New State Bill to Spur the Creation of Night Markets in California

For immediate release:
  • Nate Allbee
  • (415) 756-0561

San Francisco, CA – Today, San Francisco Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) and San Francisco Supervisor Joel Engardio announced AB 441, new state legislation that will help cities across California open new night markets and farmers markets, at the future site of the Sunset Night Market today. Haney and Engardio were joined by night market organizers and community members who are excited about the opening of the market, including celebrity chef Martin Yan from the PBS cooking show Yan Can Cook.

Although night markets have their roots in medieval China, these bustling, open-air venues became popular as urban renewal efforts in the 80s and 90s. They offer a wide variety of goods and services, but are most famous for their street food, clothing, souvenirs, and entertainment. Night markets are often seen as a way to promote local culture and tourism.

Supervisor Engardio was inspired to bring a night market to San Francisco during his annual trip to Taiwan to visit his husband's family. Taipei is known for its many night markets, which take place every night and stretch for several city blocks. The Raohe Street Night Market, which Supervisor Engardio visited and photographed, sells street food and has vendors selling everything from household goods to vintage treasures.

“Night markets celebrate food, music, art, and all the fun things in life,” said Supervisor Joel Engardio, who represents the westside neighborhoods of the Sunset. “As we address the serious issues facing San Francisco, a night market reminds us why our city is worth fighting for by creating more joy. It also brings people together, makes streets safer, and helps small businesses — everything we need to create our best San Francisco.”

Regular community events like night markets and farmers markets can revitalize neighborhoods by drawing foot traffic into local small businesses, but the California Department of Public Health currently doesn’t have specific permitting appropriate for these regularly occurring events. Organizers are required to fill out paperwork and pay fees to apply for a special event permit every few months. AB 441 will create a dedicated permit for these events allowing them to recur throughout the year without repeating paperwork and fees.

“There’s no constituency in California calling for more red tape and paperwork for farmers markets,” said Haney. “Part of bringing culture and business back into our downtown means removing barriers and cutting through unnecessary bureaucracy. Hopefully this legislation will inspire other communities across California to explore opening up their own night markets.”

San Francisco's first recurring night market will launch on September 15th on Irving Street between 20th and 23rd Avenue. The market is funded by a grant from the nonprofit Avenue Greenlight, which works to revitalize San Francisco neighborhoods. Organizers include Angie Petit, founder of the Outer Sunset Farmers Market and Sunset Mercantile; the San Francisco Parks Alliance; the Cut Fruit Collective; and the Sunset Chinese Cultural District.