by Photo courtesy Street Food City

San Diego City Council rules in favor of cracking down on thousands of local street vendors working throughout San Diego County, in particular highly-populated areas such as Balboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter, and Ocean Beach. 

The ruling has already received some backlash from leaders of advocate groups, such as Erin Tsurmoto Grassi from the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, who believes this ruling could potentially make it difficult for street vendors to operate smoothly. 

“The ordinance as written is restrictive and will make it very difficult for sidewalk vendors to continue to operate,” said Erin Tsurumoto Grassi, one of the leaders of the advocate group. “It bans sidewalk vendors from operating in some of the most high-traffic, profitable areas for them and will significantly limit how many vendors can sell in a given area due to restrictions on proximity to other vendors,” he added. 

Councilmember Raul Campillo said the new law is crucial because the lack of legislation has allowed irresponsible street vendors to crowd out responsible vendors in a “race to the bottom,” where no one is held accountable.

And on the other hand, Councilmember Raul Campillo defends the ruling by stating that this compromise will aim at increasing the city's public health and safety measures, while at the same time allowing space for entrepreneurship. 

“I fully understand that not everyone is happy with the ordinance and there is still work to do, but I’m confident this is the compromise that will get regulations on our books to increase public health and safety, while also promoting entrepreneurship among our residents,” said Campillo.

Another highly-regarded advocate is Ian Seruelo, a labor representative with the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, and he says that this ruling does not fall align with state law of pushing for entrepreneurship through jobs such as street vending, and considers this new legislation as truly restrictive. 

“We think that this ordinance is not really consistent with [State Bill] 946, the state law that supposedly encourages entrepreneurship, encourages vending or promotes vending, because it is an area where many of our communities are able to earn a living," Seruelo said. "So this ordinance that is being proposed right now is very restrictive, very punitive to vendors."

The ordinance is set to kick in on June 1 of this summer. 

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