San Diego City Council Overwhelmingly Passes Street-Vendor Ordinance

The ordinance will go into effect June 1, 2022

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The San Diego City Council passed an ordinance by an 8-1 vote on Tuesday that will provide regulations on street vendors across San Diego. 

Under the ordinance, vendors will need a business license and vendor permit in order to operate at beaches, boardwalks and other busy areas across San Diego.

NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports from Ocean Beach where street vendors sell edibles in the open.

Venus Molina, chief of staff to District 2 Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, told NBC7 Tuesday before the ordinance passed Tuesday that it would ultimately give street vendors the opportunity to be an official business and that there would be no cap on the number of vendors that can operate. Molina said permits will be obtained through the San Diego Treasurers' Office.

There are specifics on where and when vendors will be able to set up shop. For example, the new regulations would keep vendors from operating in high foot traffic areas like the Mission Beach boardwalk during the summer months, typically from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. For the rest of the year, sidewalk vendors could go back to shoreline park areas, but there would have to be a 50-foot distance requirement between sidewalk vendors and at least 25 feet between vendors and beach access points. 

Erez Atava owns the Bikini Shop on Ventura Place in Mission Beach, just steps from the boardwalk. He said he doesn't have a problem with street vendors but does want more regulation. 

"I don’t think it’s fair for the other vendors that sell the same products and same products and pay taxes and sell stuff," Atava said Tuesday morning. "I know it’s not the same, so it’s not fair for the other people." 

Ulises Tonsuegra is a vendor who sells jewelry on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. He also agrees that regulation is needed, but he doesn't want the ordinance to push vendors like him out. 

What’s happening out here is that most of the people that are out here, they’re just tiny merchants trying to make a little extra money and some are actually living off this and those are the ones you have to be concerned with," Tonsuegra said. 

Ian Seruelo, a labor representative with the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, is also an immigration attorney and represents the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance in San Diego. Part of Seruelo's work is to advocate for refugee and immigrant communities. He spoke to NBC7 prior to the vote and was worried the ordinance would negatively impact several street vendors. 

“We think that this ordinance is not really consistent with [State Bill] 946, the state law that supposedly encourages entrepreneurship, encourages vending or promotes vending, because it is an area where many of our communities are able to earn a living," Seruelo said. "So this ordinance that is being proposed right now is very restrictive, very punitive to vendors."

The ordinance will go into effect June 1, 2022.

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