Board boots Union Square flower vendor

A longtime Union Square flower stand operator lost his permit Tuesday over accusations that he had left it vacant and allowed it to become an eyesore.

The Board of Supervisors today voted 10-1 to revoke Harold Hoogasian’s permit to operate the flower stand at 250 Post St., where his family has operated it since 1953.

Hoogasian, 67, had filed an appeal with the board after a decision by the Department of Public Works to revoke his permit, on the grounds that he had failed to promptly clean up graffiti and that he had left the stand vacant and shuttered for long periods.

Department officials told the board the stand appeared to have been non-operational since at least last summer, violating city permit rules requiring continued operation. The department said it took action in response to multiple complaints.

Hoogasian, whose family also operates Hoogasian Flowers at 615 7th St., argued that he had in fact cleaned up the graffiti. He said he planned to reopen the stand after Central Subway construction work in the Union Square area was completed, when foot traffic and business would presumably improve.

Hoogasian told the board that an ongoing dispute with the property owner at 250 Post Street and tight restrictions on the items that the city’s tiny sidewalk flower stands are allowed to sell had damaged the stand’s business.

Of the dozen flower stands that once operated in Union Square, only five including his now remain and it’s partly due to city regulations, he said.

Hoogasian said:

“Abandoning is not the Hoogasian mindset. We need a larger conversation regarding the future of flower stands. … We’re trying very hard. I’d like to see the Board of Supervisors help us change.”

Hoogasian’s pleas drew little support, however.

Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District, the stand had been closed for more than a year. She said she had worked with Hoogasian and then-Supervisor David Chiu in 2013 to reopen the stand, but that it had closed again after a short period of time.

Flood said:

“In general with regard to flower stands, if they are open and teeming with flowers they are a wonderful amenity. … Now sadly it’s just blight, it’s a blight on our block.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents Union Square and met with Hoogasian to discuss the issue before Tuesday’s meeting, said he voted to revoke the permit “with a heavy heart” based on its non-operation:

“I certainly do not want the remaining flower stands to go the way of the taxi and the dodo bird. … I want these institutions, small businesses that really add so much vitality to the area, but one that hasn’t been open doesn’t meet those standards.”

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy was the lone dissenting vote against the permit revocation.