Council Adds Regulations to State Law for Sidewalk Vendors

Getting a jump on a new state law that went into effect Jan. 1 making sidewalk vending a legal enterprise, So Pas adopted an urgency ordinance that imposes additional restrictions on such businesses.

At the City Council meeting on Dec. 5, the city adopted an urgency ordinance to “tweak” the new state law that allows sidewalk vendors to legally operate anywhere in the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 946 into law in September, restricting the regulations local jurisdictions can place upon street vendors.

The new law’s provisions include requiring cities to deal with street vending violations as municipal fines rather than as criminal offenses, among others. It also allows local jurisdictions to continue requiring street vendors to obtain business licenses and health permits.

So Pas City Council adopted its urgency ordinance to make the new law more applicable to the local community.

“This was done to get in front of the state law,” John Pope, the city communications director, said in a telephone interview. “This is not in response to any issues here. We don’t have that. It was to amend the state law.”

The So Pas ordinance that went into effect after the Dec. 5 meeting prohibits sidewalk vendors from operating next to each other and therefore creating an unwanted cluster. They must operate at least 50 feet apart from each other, according to Pope. Also, vendors cannot block businesses while operating and cannot have a fixed position in residential areas. They must be mobile, Pope said. There are other restrictions as well, such as, they cannot operate near a school between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., must have a business license from the city and are subject to inspection by fire officials. They also must have the appropriate health permits.

Furthermore, the city will have a permitting process that will regulate the street vendors.

“That’s pretty much the essence of the ordinance,” Pope said. “We wanted to get in front of the state law that just went into effect.”

Two people addressed the issue during the council meeting on Dec. 5 that focused on the most effective way to communicate the content of the ordinance to the public.

As an example, local resident Linda Krausen requested that information packets regarding the new ordinance be provided to the community in several languages. Another So Pas resident and president of the community activist organization, Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA), Bianca Richards, was concerned about the hours sidewalk vendors could operate in residential and commercial zones. Richards also wanted the city to develop a map specifying which streets are considered residential and which are considered commercial.

The council unanimously approved the ordinance.