San Diego Vending Ordinance Sent Back to Committee

by on December 13, 2021 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Just about everyday it seems, there’s a letter to the editor in the San Diego U-T complaining about vendors taking over the Boardwalk at Belmont or swamping walk-ways in Balboa Park. In Ocean Beach, merchants and residents have long been complaining about vendors taking over the Vets’ Plaza and the grassy area at the end of Newport Avenue.

And merchants critical of vendors were hopeful that a mid-December hearing on a new vendor ordinance was about to be held. But, then, the city councilperson shepherding the proposed ordinance, Jen Campbell, lost her seat as Council president, and the new council president, Sean Elo-Rivera, shelved the hearing set for this week and sent it back to committee.

This is really understandable, as the new council president had yet to see a draft of the ordinance. For some reason, Campbell played the game close to her chest and didn’t allow anyone to view what was being crafted. Campbell took over the project from new mayor Todd Gloria as she still represents the beach areas and they are heavily impacted by vendors. Last February, Gloria had pledged to bring forth a new proposed law by Spring 2021. That didn’t happen.

The U-T reported that, “It’s at least the fifth time that potential new limits on vendors have been delayed since the state passed a law in 2018 aiming to encourage street vending as a new class of small business.”

So, what’s happening now?

After replacing Campbell, Elo-Rivera stated late last week:

“Our office did not receive a draft of the Street Vending Ordinance as of the deadline for it to be docketed for public review along with the rest of the agenda for Dec. 14. As of today, we have still not yet received a draft of the ordinance.”

Elo-Rivera sent the issue back to the council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, which could delay any unveiling for a few weeks — and possibly a few months. No date has been set for this yet. He stated:

“Given the importance of the topic and to be consistent with our commitment to transparency, we believe it is important for the council and the public to have sufficient time to analyze the proposed ordinance and its impacts.”

Some background: in 2018, California passed SB 946 which said any vendor regulations created by cities must focus on solving health and safety problems, not limiting economic competition. Supporters argued that the law is supposed to encourage a new class of small entrepreneurs among California’s low-income residents, many of them immigrants with families. The U-T:

Since 2018, many cities across the state have passed local ordinances that regulate street vendors in the narrow ways that SB 946 allows. In San Diego County, cities that have approved such regulations include Carlsbad, Vista, El Cajon and National City.

Then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed city legislation in 2019 that was hailed by merchant groups but criticized by advocates for vendors. Faulconer’s proposal would have banned street vendors in high-traffic neighborhoods and parks, but it was never brought forward for a council vote after some critics called it an unfair crackdown with racist overtones.

Merchant groups in communities impacted by vendors have been pressing the city for a new law that will level the playing field, eliminate unfair competition and illegal dumping of trash, and restrict where vendors can set up.

Vendor advocates claim critics exaggerate the dangers, chaos, trash, and unruliness and say they’re motivated by getting rid of competitors. And they want any new ordinance to be based on data and not on emotionalism and knee-jerk reactions, and also that new rules should vary with the neighborhood.

News source: San Diego U-T






{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

John Scherer December 13, 2021 at 11:49 am

The amount of vendors in OB and Balboa Park that I have seen is just ridiculous especially since they are occupying public park land. I know at least 2 owners of small businesses here who feel cheated as they have to pay so many taxes and permit fees to operate and maintain properties only to have the vendors take away some of their business and without having to pay the same amount which also robs the city of badly needed dollars. On top of this they are just a blight on OB and Balboa Park turning them into a congested flea market. Let’s end this and let the long term businesses here who contribute to the community get their business back and return the parks back to the public.


Bearded OBcean December 13, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Couldn’t agree more. You can’t even sit on the seawall to enjoy the waves since so many of the vendor stalls back up to the wall. Lame.


Sam December 13, 2021 at 2:17 pm

The most infuriating to me, having been a onetime restaurant worker, is the fact that anybody can show up down there to sell food with no regulations whatsoever. No refrigeration, no sanitizing, no hair restraints, etc… I’m specifically thinking of the Kettle Corn guy who preps food with no shirt on, a real class act…


Mat Wahlstrom December 13, 2021 at 3:21 pm

The problem is everywhere. The other day I saw a vendor with a barrel grill in the back of his pickup truck who parked in a space in front of three restaurants on Goldfinch in Mission Hills, huge clouds of smoke blowing into all of them. He just ignored the rightly angry owners who confronted him to move.


kh December 13, 2021 at 4:47 pm

Very interesting statement regarding the docketing. If what Elo-R says is true it looks like Jen is either incompetently delayed, or intentionally withholding it to try and make a point about losing the council president seat. I really can’t think of any good explanation.

It’s well past time for them to put personal interests aside and do what’s best for the morons that voted her in. Publicize the draft so we can sort it out and at least be prepared for the committee meeting.


Ironic OBean December 13, 2021 at 8:50 pm

Plot twist, those darn vendors hustling to survive are selling bikes and bike bells and creating bike advocates! And they control the council!


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