Street vending within Santa Clarita nears green light after City Council ordinance approval

Santa Clarita City Hall is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. File photo

The Santa Clarita City Council unanimously approved Tuesday the first reading of an ordinance that would change street vending within the city.

Currently, street vendors are prohibited from selling in any public-right-of-way, unless given a temporary or special permit by the city.

That would change with the establishment of a sidewalk vendor permit program, a change proposed to Chapter 11.37 of the Santa Clarita Municipal Code that the City Council reviewed Tuesday.

“Due to the fact the city currently prohibits sidewalk vending, we had no choice but to create recommendations regarding a sidewalk vending program in order to comply with this bill,” said Daniel Rivas, the city’s community preservation manager.

Rivas referred to Senate Bill 946, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September. The bill states that cities can no longer prohibit sidewalk vending or criminalize sidewalk vending, but can regulate the sale of food and merchandise through licensing and permitting.

Offering the sidewalk vending program would impose sidewalk vending regulations that are consistent with California law, “while maintaining regulations that are directly related to the objective health, safety and welfare of the city,” according to the agenda report.

“Permitting and licensing is for public health…it keeps us safe,” said Mayor Laurene Weste.

During public comment, College of the Canyons student Sebastian Cazares, 18, questioned the language of the amendments proposed in the ordinance, calling it a “trap.”

“It is clear that street vendors are low-income individuals…We know that these people are street vendors out of necessity,” he said. “They are often struggling financially. Can they really afford $400 (fines)? With the language barriers and lack of access to this new information will these vendors know the rules?”  

In response, Councilman Cameron Smyth said, “I like street food as much as the next person, but the question was asked, ‘What harm does it do?’ The harm of having unregulated food being served without unlicensed vendors can do great harm to people.”

The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the Dec. 11 City Council meeting. Should the council approve, the ordinance would take effect on Jan. 10.

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