San Diego City Council sets $38 permit fee for sidewalk vendors and carts

sidewalk vendor
Sidewalk vendor in San Diego County. Photo via @cityheightscdc Twitter

Sidewalk vendors and handcart operators must pay $38 a year for a license to sell their wares in San Diego, starting in mid-June, under a draft order approved Tuesday by the municipal Council.

City staff recommended that the new permit fee be as high as $230 per business, but negotiations in council chambers brought that number down to the level of a business tax certificate in the city. After the first year of implementation, City staff will post an analysis to determine any fee changes.

The proposed ordinance was crafted by Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell, who represents District 2, which includes the Ocean and Pacific Beaches street vendor districts. In March, she led an effort to pass regulations limiting where and when sidewalk vendors can operate in an effort to comply with a state law. The proposal was approved 8-1.

“With this, we can balance the needs of vendors, residents and our public spaces,” Campbell said at the time.

On Tuesday, Campbell amended the proposed fee, asking to reduce it to $100 for the first year and then receive an analysis from city staff. Board chairwoman Pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe asked for a friendly amendment to lower it to $38 for the first year, which Campbell agreed to.

The proposal passed Tuesday by an 8-1 vote, with Councilwoman Vivian Moreno voting no, citing her frustration with the additional costs for working class and immigrant families. She said a relief fund should be created for those who might not be able to pay the fees and who would suffer a loss of income as a result.

The ordinance sets up an enforcement system that varies for those with and without permits. For a first offence, a warning followed by fines and finally the confiscation of the stall and the merchandise.

To enforce the ordinance and educate vendors, a city document estimates that 32 new jobs in San Diego’s development services and parks and recreation departments are needed at a total cost of $5.1 million.

In the same document, city staff projected that 1,000 vendors would apply for the permit each year for a total revenue of about $230,000. With new permit fees approved on Tuesday, projected revenue drops to around $38,000.

Initial regulations taking effect this summer will impose restrictions on vendors, including when they can sell goods in “high-traffic” areas like boardwalks, beach-facing sidewalks and parks between Memorial and Labor Days. .

It also defines the parameters of where providers can physically set up – for example, 15 feet from another provider, 50 feet from a “major transit stop” and 100 feet from anything. sidewalk or street closure.

The city’s previous laws were passed in 2000 with minor updates since.

Senate Bill 946, the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, signed into law by the Governor at the time. Jerry Brown in 2018, allows cities and counties to regulate sidewalk vending when the purpose is directly related to public health, safety, and welfare.

However, “community animosity or perceived economic competition is not an objective health, safety or welfare concern,” reads a city document.

The law also allows cities and counties to establish park regulations to prevent an “undue concentration of commercial activity that would unreasonably interfere with the scenic and natural features of the park.”

City News Service contributed to this article.

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