This week, city leaders unveiled a new proposal that could change where and when vendors can operate their business.
It’s become the norm to see dozens of street vendors set up in beach neighborhoods and parts of downtown. Some business owners who have witnessed firsthand the increase over the past few years say regulations are desperately needed to keep things fair.
“We pay taxes, we pay rent and they don’t have to worry about all that,” said Mike Soltan, the owner of Kojack's Greek Restaurant in Mission Beach.
Soltan has operated his restaurant for decades. He says vendors now set up shop right in front of his business.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“Last summer … it was crazy. They’re selling hot dogs, they’re selling food out of a little cart and you don’t know if it’s safe," he said.
He shared with NBC 7 that he has watched neighboring restaurants go out of business – he believes the heightened competition and pandemic are to blame.
Angel Garcia is a store manager at Wings Beachwear a few blocks down. She says while the vendors outside her shop don’t particularly bother her, she hopes that any new legislation that passes keeps both vendors and shop owners in mind.
“Probably just to be respectful of the storefronts…to kind of have spacing between the doors so people can still see there are stores in that area and not just the vendors," she said.
The new proposal is being called a compromise: it aims to let vendors prosper while protecting access to cherished public spaces. If passed, it would regulate which months and in which areas vendors could legally operate. You can read the legislation in full here.
NBC 7 also spoke with Sumetta Larrue, a graphic design vendor who has been selling her work in Mission Beach for a couple weekends.
“Just trying out different locations…try to introduce the business to new people,” she said.
Larrue says like many other vendors, selling her designs has helped keep her afloat amid the pandemic – something she hopes city leaders consider in their continued conversations.
“Just keep in mind that everyone is trying to make an honest living out here. Whether they have their business license or not,” she said.
The proposed legislation will be discussed on Wednesday by the city council’s economic development committee. If approved, it will go before full council on March 1.