City council to establish street vending regulations following statewide legalizationMai Nguyen Do November 28, 2018 0 COMMENTS
On Tuesday, Nov. 27 the Santa Clarita City Council conducted the first reading of a proposed ordinance to comply with SB 946, also known as the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act. The ordinance would add additional street vending regulations to the city code as allowed by the state law.
The city’s current policy prohibits street vending in any public right-of-way unless the vendor has received special license from city officials. However, the passage of SB 946 legalized street vending across California. Starting in Jan. 2019, municipalities that do not have street vending regulations that align with that of state law cannot enforce local laws against the practice.
The proposed amendment to the city code establishes a specific program to prohibit stationary vendors from operating in residential zones, limits the hours that sidewalk vendors may operate and will “require that all sidewalk vendors obtain a County of Los Angeles Public Health Permit, County of Los Angeles Business License and a City of Santa Clarita Sidewalk Vendor Permit prior to commencing any sidewalk vending operations,” according to city documents.
SB 946 allows cities to require that street vendors secure a permit from a local authority or a valid business permit.
“If we are going to be in compliance with state law then so be it, but we do want – there is going to be sidewalk vendors – it’s not unreasonable to ask that they are licensed,” Councilmember Cameron Smyth said during the meeting. “I’m not going to apologize for requiring sidewalk vendors to get a license.”
A county health permit for a street vendor costs upward of $393 depending on the type and size of vendor, according to county documents. There is no indication in the ordinance as to the cost of or the requirements for the newly-created City of Santa Clarita Sidewalk Vendor Permit.
The ordinance also includes distance requirements for sidewalk vendors, such as requiring vendors to be stationed at least 18 inches from the edge of any curb and 25 feet away from a street corner, controlled intersection, traffic light or crosswalk.
Under SB 946, a violation of a local vending program’s requirements is punishable by a maximum fine of $100 for a first violation, $200 for a section violation and $500 for each additional violation. In cities with local permitting requirements, street vending without a permit issued by a municipal authority is punishable by a fine of up to $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for each additional violation. In each case, the fines outlined in Santa Clarita’s ordinance are the maximum amount allowed under the new law.
“If I had my way, we wouldn’t have [street vendors], folks,” Councilmember Bob Kellar said. “I think it’s an absolutely terrible thing to come here and to attack our city and tell us that we have to have street vendors. [Councilmember Smyth] is right. Go drive down to the streets of Los Angeles and tell me that’s great, that it’s really beautiful.”
In addition, the Santa Clarita City Council Legislative Committee met to approve recommendations for the council’s 2019 legislative agenda, which includes the suggested addition of continued opposition to statewide street vending regulations.
The only major proposed changes to the city council’s legislative agenda from the 2018 version is language that mandates the council “support legislation that seeks to revise the formula for allocating vehicle license fee adjustment amounts to restore revenues to cities that have annexed developed areas” and “oppose legislation that seeks to limit or eliminate municipal authority to regulate street or sidewalk vendors,” according to city documents.
The city council voted to oppose SB 946 earlier this year on May 22, but opted to include continued opposition to the bill and similar measures as part of their larger set of policy priorities for 2019.
Newhall resident Robert Gonzalez has enjoyed purchasing food from local street vendors over the years. “Most vendors are clean and respectful,” Gonzalez said. “There [are also] some taco street vendors in [the] North Hollywood area. Sometimes me and my family drive all way there just to eat.”
Although street vendors have historically not been as prominent in Santa Clarita as in cities like Los Angeles, they have often been community fixtures in predominately Latino neighborhoods such as Newhall.
“There was a taco lady by my house with the most amazing tacos,” Gonzalez said. “She was only there for a bit probably because [authorities] moved her, but I know it wasn’t because there wasn’t business. She always had a line of people.”
Mai Nguyen Do is a Vietnamese American poet and researcher. She is a lifelong Santa Clarita resident and a College of the Canyons graduate. She is also the author of Ghosts Still Walking (2016) and Battlefield Blooming (2019). Find her on Twitter @DoNguyenMai.