City Council to discuss restrictions on food vendors, homeless

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council is set to discuss Tuesday possible increased restrictions on local street vendors and those living in homeless encampments.  

The possible changes to the Santa Clarita municipal code would make it possible for the city to confiscate vending equipment for up to 60 days and would allow the city to remove homeless encampments within 24 hours of notice as opposed to the previous 72 hours.  

According to the council agenda, the changes as they pertain to street vendors is the result of the city’s Code Enforcement Program addressing 400 cases on unpermitted vending since January 2019, with approximately 215 occurring in the last 12 months.   

“As a result of the decriminalization of sidewalk vending, violations of the program are limited to administrative citations, which have no recourse, making compliance difficult and providing little incentive to follow city regulations,” the agenda states. “To mitigate unpermitted vending citywide, Code Enforcement staff conducts proactive inspections during standard business hours, seven days a week.” 

However, according to city staff, the vendors wait until after overtime hours have expired. Therefore, the changes would allow the city to take the following actions and pay a contracted security services company $30,000 to patrol “hot spot” locations in Newhall and Canyon Country:  

  • Establishes a list of prohibited items. 
  • Provides additional clarity on prohibited locations and/or minimum distance requirements. 
  •  Limits approved vendors’ ability to establish multiple sites without approval. 
  •  Establishes design and dimension requirements. 
  •  Limits the numbers of items sold by one vendor. 
  • Establishes revocation and denial standards. 
  •  Authorizes the impoundment of vending equipment. 

Additionally, the council will discuss changes to the Park and Public Place Rules and Regulations regarding homeless populations, citing that the increased homeless population over recent years has forced their hand.  

“With an overwhelming majority of Santa Clarita being located within a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, as designated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection,” reads the council agenda, “the increased risk of wildfire from unpermitted heat sources and use or collection of flammable materials, as well as the recent fires originating in local encampments of unhoused individuals, has necessitated emergency evacuation and cleanup efforts and threatened the health, safety, and welfare of all Santa Clarita residents.” 

The changes would thereby include the following:  

  • Prohibits camping in hazard or very-high fire hazard severity zones. 
  • Establishes minimum distance requirements to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act laws and to enhance the safety of residents and those individuals experiencing homelessness. 
  • Reduces the standard noticing requirements for abatement from 72 hours to 24 hours. 
  • Reduces the storage of personal property from 90 days to 60 days. 

“Although state law requires 24-hour noticing, the city has traditionally provided 72 hours for individuals to collect personal property from encampments posted for abatement,” the agenda reads. “However, with the increased homeless population, especially those along public rights-of-way, a 72-hour notice hinders staff’s ability to properly protect the health and safety of Santa Clarita residents.”  

“It should be noted that the city will continue to provide 72-hour noticing, when appropriate.” 

The city also states that due to limited storage space, and almost no items being reclaimed over the last two years, the city should fall in line with the state law minimum number of 60 days for personal property to be reclaimed.  

The regular meeting for the Santa Clarita City Council is set to take place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd.   

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