Reaction to a new street vending ordinance authored by Ward 2 Councilwoman Dr. Jennifer Campbell, charging vendors $38 annually, passed May 17 by the City Council and scheduled to begin in mid-June, has been intense.
City staff had originally recommended that the new sales permit fee be $230 per year, the same as a City business tax certificate. But that amount was reduced by City Council members, fearing it might harm those it was intended to help, along with the condition that staff do an analysis after a year to determine if rates need to be changed.
“Enforcement will be handled primarily by Neighborhood Code Enforcement staff and park rangers,” city spokesman José Ysea said of the new street vending ordinance, adding, “Maps for ‘designated’ areas are still being developed. where vendors will be allowed. They should arrive soon.
Bob Evans, president of La Jolla Parks & Beaches, Inc., was not happy with the end result of the ordinance.
“It was typical and expected business being done by the City Council when some amendments were added from the first approval and discussions in March,” Evans said, noting that while enforcement in Balboa Park and Downtown is due to start in mid- June, that’s not true for beach communities.
“Beach communities will still require approval from the California Coastal Commission for new City ordinances,” Evans said, adding, “There is no set agenda yet with the Coastal Commission. I’ve heard speculation for at least a few months, and well past the summer, as to when the Coastal Commission may review (the sale ordinance). Therefore, street vending should continue as usual for vendors and continue out of control in all coastal areas.”
Evans added, “At Scripps Park/La Jolla Cove and the Children’s Pool, it’s as busy and crowded as ever with more vendors flooding the area. And as we head into summer, I expect the scenic and natural beauty of the coast’s parks and boardwalks to be completely unrecognizable with street vendors taking over and no law enforcement.”
Street vendors on Mission and Pacific beaches had a different take on the City Council’s new vending rules. While they felt the rules were necessary, interviewees learned that the new ordinance would prohibit vending in those areas during the summer months, something they all took issue with.
“We don’t like some of the vendor rules, however they need to be implemented,” said RV residents Tawny and Michael White of Ocean Beach, who sold their homemade incense at their stand called Laddy’s & Lassy’s House of Fragrances, the May 21 at the Mission Beach boardwalk. “We had to jump through hoops to get a business license.”
“What I don’t like about this (ordinance) is that there are only certain times of the year that you can sell,” said Michael White. “How can you promote entrepreneurship if you can’t sell your products? We’re just trying to make a living.”
“They (the city) want us out between Memorial Day and Labor Day, not [Mission Beach]or on any beach in the San Diego area, or on any street in San Diego,” said Tawny White.
“We don’t mind paying a (provider) fee, we’ve been doing it everywhere we’ve been,” said Michael White, who suffers from respiratory problems.
“This is the first city, town or state we’ve been to that wasn’t regulated (for sale),” Tawny White noted, adding that they have traveled to and sold in multiple states in recent months.
Do the Whites think the new sales ordinance and its enforcement will make things better for sellers?
“I doubt it,” said Michael White.
“I don’t like the fact that they’re going to regulate what time of year we can install,” said Tawny White. “June, July and August, that’s somebody’s busiest time. That could sustain us through the winter.”
Circumstances were very different for another Mission Beach boardwalk vendor, Andrew Zander representing G-Code Designs. He has been selling for six years at Kobey’s and other swap meets and in Mission Beach and other places along the coast. Zander and his business partner, Ariana Paige, make digitized canvas prints of original colored pencil drawings of famous people, usually in sports and music. His artwork sells in the $15 to $200 range.
“For us, the ordinance is moot because we have all our paperwork, business license and permits, all of that,” Zander said. “We are prepared and we are ready.”
Is Mission Beach a good place for vendors?
“MB is a beautiful place, the park is right here, the roller coaster,” Zander said. “And the vendors are really amazing too. It’s kind of a community that’s been built around here.”
Zander did not oppose the new city sale ordinance. “Laws and rules always make sense to me,” he said. “We like to follow them.”
But Zander would rather be selling his wares at a farmer’s market or swap meet than on the boardwalk or street. “We really enjoy farmers markets and swap meets because they’re safe and their space is ‘this’ space,” he said. “But here (boardwalk), it’s first-come, first-served. Nobody pays for these places. And nobody is owed these places.
On the Pacific Beach boardwalk near Crystal Pier, PB residents Albert Garcia and his business partner and fiancée Kaylee Vaughn were busy selling their handmade jewelry: rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. His local business started out as a hobby, but turned into a full-time occupation.
“We both lost our jobs due to COVID and we needed money, and we decided to come here and give it a try,” Garcia said. “[Vending] it has made it possible for us to pay rent and food again.”
Noting that they are typically on the PB boardwalk four or five days a week, Vaughn noted that he did not agree with the City’s proposed summer “moratorium” on street vending.
“That’s when we make all our money,” he said. “There are three to four million people who pass through here during those months. It’s our busiest time and I feel like that’s really unfair. I know they are trying to make everyone happy. I just think we should be able to be here all year long, as long as we have all the information and paperwork that we’re supposed to have.”
“It’s only a small percentage of the year that they don’t want us here, and it’s during the busiest time of the year,” Garcia said, noting that they’re not reselling merchandise, like some, but making their own jewelry, which is qualitatively different. of similar merchandise sold elsewhere by physical companies.
“We’re trying to turn this into something that we can one day become brick and mortar,” Garcia said, adding, “We’ll adapt.”
PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR SIDEWALK VENDOR
• An itinerant vending permit from the City Treasurer’s Office prior to conducting vending business in the City, valid for one year and reviewed annually.
• Street vending is prohibited during the summer moratorium: the Saturday before Memorial Day and the Saturday before and Sunday through Labor Day, in Balboa Park, Mission Bay Park, and waterfront parks: Newport Avenue between Abbott Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard in Ocean Beach, Ventura Place between Mission Boulevard and Ocean Front Walk in Mission Beach, Garnet Avenue between Ocean Front Walk and Cass Street in Pacific Beach, Coast Boulevard, between Cave Street and the 200 block of Coast Boulevard South, in La Jolla (pending Coastal Commission approval).
• A city business tax certificate due annually.
• If applicable, mobile vendors must possess a free, valid vendor’s permit from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration that designates the “City of San Diego” as a location or sub-location. A seller’s permit allows for the collection of sales tax from customers and reports those amounts to the state.
VENDORS OF FOOD PRODUCTS ARE
• Required to obtain and display a San Diego County Public Health Permit at all times.
• Required to purchase a San Diego County Food Handler Card.