by Photo via Unsplash

San Diego City Council approved an ordinance to require street vendors and pushcart operators to pay a $38 annual permit fee to sell in San Diego beginning mid-June.

The proposed ordinance was passed on May 17 and developed by Councilmember Jennifer Campbell led efforts in March to pass regulations restricting where and when sidewalks can operate to comply with state law. The proposal had been approved on Tuesday with an 8-1 vote, with Councilmember Vivian Moreno in opposition. 

City staff recommended a new permit fee as high as $230 per business, but negotiations in council chambers brought the number to equate to the cost of a business tax certificate. City Staff will release an analysis to determine any fee modification following the first year of implementation. 

Councilmember Campbell said with the ordinance, “we can balance the needs of vendors, residents, and our public spaces”. 

Citing her frustrations with additional fees placed on working-class and immigrant families, Councilmember Moreno said the city should establish a relief fund for those unable to pay fees and would experience income loss as a result. 

An enforcement system is established under the ordinance, which varies for those with and without permits. For a first violation, a warning, followed by fines and ultimately confiscation of the stall and wares.

According to a city document, 32 new jobs in San Diego’s Development Services and Parks and Recreation departments are needed to enforce the ordinance and educate vendors. That is estimated to cost the city $5.1 million. 

City staff anticipates 1,000 vendors yearly applying for the permit for around $38,000 in total revenue. 

The initial regulations going into effect this summer will impose restrictions on vendors, including when they can sell wares in “high-traffic'' areas like boardwalks, beach-facing sidewalks, and parks between Memorial and Labor days. The ordinance also sets up parameters that vendors can physically set up. 

Previous city laws pertaining to sidewalk vendors were last adopted in 2000 with minor updates since then. Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 946, known as the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act in 2018, allowing cities and counties to regulate sidewalk vendors where the objective is directly related to public health, safety, and welfare.

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