Heriberto Gonzalez operates his food truck, El Habanero Street Tacos, from a Lowe's parking lot in Carlsbad. / Photo by Tigist Layne

Strict regulations, burdensome permit processes and harsh punishments in some sidewalk vendor ordinances in cities in North County are leaving vendors with two choices: adapt or get left behind.

Counterintuitively, these regulations have been passed in response to a state law intended to make it easier for sidewalk vendors to thrive in California. 

Cities throughout the county are still working on their own rules, but a handful of cities in North County have already had these regulations in place for up to three years, and for some vendors, there’s no denying that their businesses have been impacted.

Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, Solana Beach and Encinitas all have sidewalk vending ordinances in place. A few of these cities even place similar restrictions on food trucks, while the state law does not. 

The different ordinances are similar in that they outline the permit/licensing requirements and detail where sidewalk vendors can set up shop. They each also have a long list of specific distance guidelines detailing where vendors can’t operate, therefore finding a spot to operate has become a challenge in and of itself.

Herbierto Gonzalez, a food truck owner in Carlsbad, James Beauford, a farmer’s market vendor in Oceanside, and more vendors shared their experiences of the challenges that have come with these ordinances, and how they have had to adapt to keep their businesses afloat.

Continue reading here.

Gomez and Alvarez Head to Runoff

Former Councilman David Alvarez and former Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, friends and political allies before what became a bruising special election campaign, will face off in a June runoff to represent the 80th Assembly District.

Alvarez took 38.5 percent of the vote and Gomez finished in second with 37 percent of the vote, while Republican Lincoln Pickard took 24.5 percent, as of late Tuesday night. Since no candidate crossed the 50 percent threshold, the race will now be decided in June, “ensuring that the labor vs business IE slugfest continues in the runoff,” as California politics observer Rob Pyers observed Tuesday.

With the race as close as it was, the campaign will now turn to who can do best with new voters, as turnout increases from an April special election to a June primary, and which of the two Democrats can most appeal to the voters who sided with Pickard.

Magnolia Encampment Shrinking Steadily

The Magnolia encampment featured in Jakob McWhinney’s story on new efforts to address homelessness in East County has been shrinking steadily over the past weeks. In an email, a spokesman for the county, which committed to sending outreach workers to the encampment every weekday for at least two weeks, wrote that between March 16 and 30 it had connected 24 individuals to some form of housing.

More than two dozen tents, large and small, line the side of Magnolia Avenue in El Cajon Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
More than two dozen tents lined the side of North Magnolia Avenue on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

The Sheriff’s Homeless Assistance Response Team, as well as nonprofit partners PATH, Home Start and the Regional Task Force on Homelessness have all been assisting with engagement and outreach, and the Department of Public Works has been providing twice weekly cleaning services. Additionally, public health nurses had administered over a dozen COVID-19, Hep-A and flu vaccines, and distributed over a hundred hygiene kits and dozens of Narcan kits.

“Our team has been coordinating with PATH and Home Start to ensure appropriate coordinated entry housing assessments are completed for each person we engage and based on those assessments individuals can get matched to [a] variety of housing options,” the county wrote.

Anthony Correa, who said he’d been living in his car until a collision with a driver going the wrong way down a street totaled it, has been living in a tent at the Magnolia encampment. He said outreach workers had helped him get signed up for an EBT card, and general relief, a program that provides temporary cash assistance to individuals.

“It’s been a huge help,” Correa said. “I’ll take any help to get off the street.”

Gerry Kostiha, who’d been staying there with his dog Lumpy for months, and was featured in the March 22 piece, is one of the individuals who has moved. He excitedly told Voice early last week he’d gotten Lumpy certified as a service animal so they could move into housing. By March 29, he could no longer be found at the encampment.

Gerald (Gerry) Kostiha eats a grapefruit while sitting on a chair outside his tent Tuesday, March 8, 2022 in El Cajon, CA.
Gerry Kostiha with his dog Lumpy outside his tent in El Cajon on March 8, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

The county spokesman wrote county workers will continue daily outreach through at least April 8, with regular visits continuing afterwards.

San Diego Establishes Privacy Board

The San Diego City Council signed off Tuesday on a privacy advisory board. As the name suggests, the new group will be responsible for providing advice and technical assistance on the purchase, use and funding of surveillance technology that collects and stores the data of individual residents and visitors.

Elected officials gave their initial approval for the board in November 2020 following a series of controversial rollouts of technology. At the time, the City Council also approved a draft of a new ordinance intended to put stronger rules around the governance of surveillance. That ordinance is still awaiting another vote.

Both proposals came from the Trust SD Coalition and were carried by Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe.

The nine members of the privacy advisory board have yet to be selected but are supposed to represent an array of backgrounds and expertise, including work at organizations that serve communities historically subject to disproportionate surveillance. As the staff report noted, members will serve two-year terms with a maximum of eight consecutive years. 

Measure C Council Decision Postponed

A decision on whether the city will appeal a March Superior Court ruling that dealt a blow to the city’s attempt to argue a 2020 hotel-tax passed with less than a two-thirds vote has been postponed for a week.

On Tuesday, the City Council was expected to offer direction behind closed doors on whether to pursue an appeal of Judge Kenneth J. Medel’s March 7 ruling that Measure C failed before the city or initiative supporters ever went to court due to city moves after the election. Medel’s decision came despite rulings elsewhere in the state that citizens’ measures do not require the two-thirds vote typically needed to approve tax hikes.

Now the City Attorney’s Office says council members are set to debate the issue in closed session next week.

“The item was continued by the City Council to next week’s closed session to allow sufficient time for discussion,” attorney’s office spokeswoman Leslie Wolf Branscomb wrote in an email.

Yes! for a Better San Diego — the group behind the 2020 hotel-tax hike that aims to fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless initiatives and road repairs — late last month filed its own notice in Superior Court that it plans to appeal.

The campaign said Tuesday that they believe they have a strong case and would also welcome a city appeal.

“We appreciate the effort the judge put into his decision, but believe it is mistaken and not in line with recent decisions around the state. We are heartened that we are entitled to a prompt hearing in the Court of Appeal, so that we can move forward on work the vast majority of San Diego voters asked the City to accomplish — modernize our Convention Center, provide a funding stream to address homelessness, and invest in improving our streets and roads,” campaign committee member Jaymie Bradford wrote.

Advocates including those at Alliance San Diego, which challenged the city’s move to argue after the election that the measure passed with less than a two-thirds vote in Superior Court, have argued the city and Measure C supporters should instead concede that Measure C failed.

In Other News

This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Tigist Layne, Jakob McWhinney, Jesse Marx and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Megan Wood and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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