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San Diego’s long-awaited sidewalk vending rules are set to go into effect on June 22. But the rows of merchants who’ve lined Balboa Park walking paths and beach areas to the frustration of residents and businesses who complain about trash and health concerns won’t be going away anytime soon.
The new rules lay out a permitting process for vendors and include safety requirements, details about enforcement and restrictions on where exactly vendors can and can’t go.
There’s been some confusion as to what exactly will happen when these rules go into effect. The city is going to focus first on educating vendors about the new rules and the process for obtaining a permit.
Vendors will get multiple warnings before any infractions or impoundments are enforced. Fines can range from $200 to $1,000 depending on the number of violations and if a vendor has a valid permit.
The rules won’t immediately apply to areas in the coastal zone given that the vending rules need the OK from the California Coastal Commission.
Sidewalk vending is often a pathway for microentrepreneurs, who might not have the means or knowledge to open a storefront immediately but want to start their a business anyway.
Claudia Biezunski-Rodriguez, owner of clothing store Sew Loka and the organizer of a weekly sidewalk vending event in Barrio Logan, told Voice of San Diego last year that she saw how some vendors were able to move into a storefront because of that weekly opportunity.
“It creates an equitable path for starting a business because getting a space can be hard,” she said.
Some advocates for street vendors argued early on that the rules were too strict and that they would likely put many out of business.
Though some vendors felt that the city’s acknowledgment that their carts and booths play an economic role was a positive step toward creating opportunities that could help them eventually move to a storefront.
The Logan Heights Community Development Corporation has been hosting sidewalk vending workshops. They have a couple more scheduled before June 22.
The city’s law on street vending is a result of the passing of a state law that set out to decriminalize street vending. The state law prohibits cities from cracking down on vendors for reasons unrelated to public health, safety and public space access.