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In its second meeting since the November midterm elections, the Santa Clarita City Council announced on Tuesday its proposal concerning the implementation of a statewide law that would legalize sidewalk street vending — which is currently banned within the city.

SB 946, which officially takes effect on Jan.1, 2019, would prohibit local authorities from directly or indirectly banning sidewalk vending. The city, however, will be permitted to regulate vending within its jurisdiction by requiring licenses and permits.

The council will require that vendors hold a County of Los Angeles Public Health Permit, a County of Los Angeles Business Permit and a City of Santa Clarita Sidewalk Vending Permit in order to operate lawfully within the city.

Councilman Cameron Smyth noted that the permitting process would be robust. “When you talk about other large cities that have vending, like Los Angeles, they have a very thorough permitting process,” Smyth said. “They don’t allow unregulated street vendors throughout the city. I like street food as much as the next person…but the harm of having unregulated food served by unlicensed vendors can do great harm to people. It’s not unreasonable to make sure that they’re licensed.”

Smyth’s sentiment was echoed by much of the council.

“The state has mandated what we can and cannot do, and we’re simply trying to help to protect the health and safety of our residents,” Councilwoman Marsha McLean said.

In addition to requiring proper licensing, the city plans to limit the hours during which vendors will be allowed to operate and to prohibit stationary vendors from working within zoned residential areas. Vendors will not be permitted to operate within 300 feet of special, permitted events — like farmers’ markets, parades or concerts — for which prearranged concession agreements with event vendors exist.

The City also stipulated a number of “distance requirements,” that would prohibit sidewalk vending within 1,000 feet from a school, 50 feet from another vendor, 25 feet from a street corner, 10 feet from any bus stop or driveway and 18 inches from the curb.

In spite of the many regulations SB 946 allows the city to independently implement, the council continued to meet the bill with opprobrium.

“This is another example of Sacramento determining that they have the wherewithal to manage every square inch of the state of California,” Councilman Bob Kellar said. “These types of decisions ought to be made at the council level.

“I think it’s an absolute terrible thing to come here and attack our city and tell us that we got to have street vendors. Go drive down the streets of Los Angeles and tell me that’s great, that that’s really beautiful. I disagree.”

Kellar and Smyth both recounted Santa Clarita’s place in the bill’s provenance, as the city moved previously to join the local governments of Beverly Hills, Downey, El Cajon, Placentia, San Marcos and Stanton in opposition to the Bill.

In spite of this push-back, SB 946 was passed by the California State Senate in an Aug. 18 vote that broke largely along party lines. Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, voted against the bill; while Sen. Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, whose district covers the southern portions of the Santa Clarita Valley, voted in favor of the measure.

“Sidewalk vendors are a fixture in California’s communities and a part of vibrant food cultures. But outdated laws expose these entrepreneurs to harassment, criminal prosecution, and even deportation,” wrote the Senate Rules Committee’s Aug. 21 floor report on the bill.

In addition to its discussion on sidewalk vending, the Council motioned to honor Dante Acosta, Santa Clarita’s outgoing assemblyman, with the key to the city during Tuesday’s meeting.

Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, has served one term in the California State Assembly and formerly worked as a member of the Santa Clarita City Council from 2014-16. He lost his 2018 bid for reelection to the state legislature to challenger Christy Smith by over 5,000 votes.

“We just want to thank you so much and it’s such an honor,” Mayor Laurene Weste said, addressing the assemblyman. “We’re very proud as a council to present this to you. The key to the city — we don’t do this often.”

Acosta first made light of the council’s laudatory remarks. “I was sitting back there thinking ‘you know, most people don’t hear those kind of things until they’re dead,’” he laughed.

Soon after, his tone turned serious as he addressed the council for one of the final times as an assemblyman. “We’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “We’ve had very good leadership, I believe, here in Santa Clarita and I pray that we’ll continue to have that.”

“My wife and I have lived here for 32 years … it’s really been truly an honor to serve this community, first on the city council and later in the state legislature. And let me tell you — folks, it is a tough job.”

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City Council discusses vending, honors Acosta in Tuesday meeting
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City Council discusses vending, honors Acosta in Tuesday meeting
In its second meeting since the November midterm elections, the Santa Clarita City Council discussed the legalization of street vending and honored outgoing Assemblyman Dante Acosta with a key to the city.
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The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer
Ryan Painter

Ryan Painter covers government and politics for The Proclaimer. He has worked at the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, the Daily Trojan and as a campaign staffer during 2018 midterm elections. A 2016 West Ranch graduate, Ryan studies Political Science and International Relations at USC. Find him on Twitter @ryan_pintor.

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