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Street vendor ordinance goes into effect in San Diego

Sidewalk vendors and pushcart operators must pay $38 annually for a permit to sell their wares in San Diego.
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According to the ordinance, street vendors can physically set up 15 feet from another vendor or 50 feet from a major transit stop, and 100 feet from any sidewalk or street closures. A team of code enforcement officers, not police officers, will oversee implementation. 

Sidewalk street vendors and pushcart operators are now required to have permits from the City of San Diego to comply with a California law regulating these kinds of micro-businesses. 

The San Diego City Council voted to approve the ordinance earlier this year, bringing San Diego into compliance with Senate Bill 946, a law that decriminalized sidewalk vending statewide and set parameters on how cities could impose regulations. Vendors who serve food will also need a county health permit and food handler’s card. 

According to a city staff report, the vending permit is valid for one calendar year from the date of issuance. Street vendors and pushcart operators must renew the permit annually. 

Sidewalk vendors and pushcart operators must pay $38 annually for a permit to sell their wares in San Diego, matching the cost of a business tax certificate in the city. City staff initially recommended the new permit fee be as high as $230 per business, but the price dwindled during negotiations in council chambers. 

City staff will release an analysis after the first year of implementation to determine any fee modifications. 

According to the ordinance, street vendors can physically set up 15 feet from another vendor or 50 feet from a major transit stop, and 100 feet from any sidewalk or street closures. A team of code enforcement officers, not police officers, will oversee implementation. 

According to a city staff report, sidewalk vendors and pushcart operators receive additional materials and reference information to ensure they are informed of the rules and regulations associated with their operation. 

“Education and outreach to sidewalk vendors are paramount. We will be working with community-based organizations to assist in providing information in various languages to work with the diverse group of vendors,” wrote Venus Molina, Chief of Staff to Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, in a staff report. 

Existing pushcart regulations have been in place since the adoption of the Land Development Code in 2000, with minor updates in 2013 and 2015. 

First-time offenders of the ordinance will receive a written administrative warning and referral. Second and third-time offenders will face fines that range from $200 to $1,000. Repeat offenders may be subject to confiscation of stalls and wares. 

The California State Coastal Commission are expected to review the Sidewalk Vending Ordinance in the coming months.

 For more information regarding the ordinance's parameters and frequently-asked-questions, visit sandiego.gov/sidewalk-vending.