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Santa Monica City Council Paves Way for New Sidewalk Vending Program

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

April 11, 2019 -- By the time the busy summer season rolls around, street vendors will be peddling their goods on Santa Monica sidewalks that were previously off limits.

The City Council on Tuesday updated its 30-year-old vending program to comply with the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act signed into law last year by former Governor Jerry Brown.

The law decriminalizes street vending in public spaces to boost economic opportunities for immigrant and low-income communities, staff said.

The Council also adopted an emergency ordinance that will allow Santa Monica's new vending program to launch immediately, officials said.

Permit applications will be available next month.

The program "strikes an important balance" between keeping streets safe and fostering economic opportunities, said Mayor Gleam Davis.

In a statement issued after the vote, Davis said the City hopes the program "will create an inclusive, safe, and successful business environment for vendors and customers, ensure public safety, and allow our public spaces to be enjoyed by all.”

The ordinance updates the definitions of sidewalk and vehicle-based vending in the Municipal Code, and administrative regulations will outline the program's requirements and restrictions, officials said.

Sidewalk vendors must obtain a business license certificate and a sidewalk vendor permit and decal before they can hit the streets.

They also must comply with county and state regulations that include obtaining an L.A. County Health Permit for food vendors and a California Sellers Permit.

Although vendors will be allowed to operate on public sidewalks where vending was barred under the 1989 program, highly-trafficked areas that pose a risk to the public’s safety will remain off limits, officials said.

These include the Third Street Promenade, where the existing cart program will continue to allow as many as 32 independent licensed cart operations, and the Pier, where the current vending program allows 13 licensed vendors.

Also off limits is Santa Monica State Beach, which includes the 1700 block of Ocean Front Walk, and Palisades Park (within 500 feet of the Ocean Avenue entrance to the Pier bridge), where stationary vending will be prohibited.

The Council on Tuesday directed staff to return with an administrative fine schedule that will be enforced administratively.

City code enforcers will be reassigned to the Pier and surrounding beach, areas staff says "have become overcrowded with unpermitted vendors in recent months," resulting in numerous turf fights and arrests.

The City -- which has posted information on its website -- will hold a series of bilingual application workshops for those interested in obtaining permits.

“We’re committed to working alongside vending entrepreneurs to ensure they get licensed and permitted with the City and county,” said Deputy City Manager and Policy Director Anuj Gupta.

“We’ll also encourage and facilitate lawful vending in desirable and permissible locations that are economically attractive, such as the Colorado Esplanade.”

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