By Jake BOWMAN
At Thursday’s Montrose Shopping Park Association meeting, business owners voiced their concerns about street vendors and SB 946.
On Sept. 17, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 946, known as the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act. The new law focused on sidewalk vendors and provided guidelines and restrictions on how cities and local law enforcement can deal with vendors. The most important aspect of the law is that sidewalk vending is no longer a crime. Until cities and local authorities pass ordinances to govern sidewalk vending in their area, vendors are able to open up shop anywhere.
Sidewalk vending has been a hot button topic for a while now, with clashes between pedestrians and vendors pushing the issue into the spotlight. Many in California are concerned that sidewalk vendors will not only cause issues with foot traffic, but can also increase competition among local shops in a potentially unfair manner. On the other side of the argument many saw the criminalization and regulation of sidewalk vending as being oppressive to seniors, immigrants and low-income people. For many, these pop-up shops are legitimate businesses and a primary source of income.
Section 1 of SB 946 defined the reasoning for the bill: sidewalk vending provides important business and economic development opportunities to low-income and immigrant communities, it increases access to desired goods, food and items that have a cultural significance and it contributes to a safe and dynamic public space. The bill continues by stating that the safety and welfare of the general public is enhanced by giving local authorities a way to regulate vendors and by prohibiting criminal penalties for violations. This section ends by stating that, “It is the intent of the Legislature to promote entrepreneurship and support immigrant and low-income communities.”
The bill outlines a path as to how vendors can legitimately set up and operate their business, but it’s the decision of local governments to determine additional requirements.
According to Glendale City Councilwoman Paula Devine, “The city is aware of SB 946 and we are doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of our local businesses and residents.”
Devine added that the process to make these determinations takes some time, but that the community will be involved every step of the way. Currently the Glendale Community Development Dept. is drafting an ordinance concerning sidewalk vending. It is working closely with business owners and members of the community to make sure all concerns are being addressed.
Once the draft is written it will be submitted to the Glendale City Council, which then reviews the document and also hears from the public on the issue. Once
approved, the city ordinance goes into effect, immediately in most cases.
There will be outreach to let the community and law enforcement know what the new regulations are. The wording of the document is the most important part of the process, Devine said.
“We have to make sure we have a ‘well derived objective basis’ for any restrictions we put in place,” she said.
The goals are for business owners to feel protected while giving sidewalk vendors the opportunities and options to continue their businesses.