Controversial efforts to crack down on street vendors in San Diego suffered another setback when the new mayor, Sean Elo-Rivera, canceled a council hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 14, on the long-awaited new legislation.
“Our office did not receive a draft from the street vendor ordinance until the deadline for it to be filed for public review along with the rest of the December 14 agenda,” said Elo-Rivera. “As of today [December 9], we still haven’t received the draft of the ordinance”.
As a result, Elo-Rivera removed the agenda item and sent it back to the council’s Committee on Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations, meaning a delay of at least a few weeks and possibly a few months. There is no set date for submitting the proposal to the economic development panel.
It is at least the fifth time that new potential limits on sellers have been pushed back since the state passed a law in 2018 aimed at encouraging high street selling as a new class of small business.
Get La Jolla Light weekly in your inbox
News, resources and sports about La Jolla, every Thursday for free
You may occasionally receive promotional content from La Jolla Light.
Mercantile groups in San Diego say the city urgently needs a new vending law to deal with what they say is unfair competition and illegal dumping of garbage by start-up sellers in several areas of the city, including coastal communities like La Jolla. They say it’s crucial that this new law goes into effect next summer’s tourism season.
Advocates of street vendors say critics have exaggerated the dangers and chaos created by vendors and that those who complain are mostly companies frustrated by facing new competition from vendors.
The Parks of La Jolla & amp; The Beaches group voted Dec. 6 to send a letter to the board calling for a ban on this sale in coastal parks.
“The current problem we’re seeing in coastal parks and beaches in La Jolla, especially the children’s pool and Scripps park, is that vending has taken over beach entrances, footpaths, destroyed landscaping and taken away public use. of these natural resources ” said the vice president of LJP & amp; B, Bob Evans.
But artist Jordan McGinnis, who has painted local beach scenes since the 1990s, said that “completely removing everyone makes it difficult for artists and artisans to make a living. We add value to the community by making handcrafted products. We must be allowed to sell in public. ”
The delay in ordinance is frustrating because, without a law in place, the city’s Police Department and county health department cannot and will not enforce enforcement of undisciplined vendors, according to Michael Trimble, head of the Gaslamp Quarter Association , a company in downtown San Diego Group.
San Diego Police Community Relations Officer David Surwilo told Ocean Beach City Council in July that his department’s hands are tied to street vendors until some local legislation is implemented.
“At this point, unfortunately, it’s not a police problem because there’s no law,” Surwilo said. “We need some kind of common sense regulation.”
Trimble said merchants don’t want to criminalize sales, they just don’t want suppliers to have an unfair advantage over traditional businesses — especially restaurants — because one group has to follow certain rules while the other doesn’t.
“We’re going to sell, but we’re going to have everyone playing on the same playing field,” said Trimble.
In the midst of this ongoing battle, several city officials have tried and failed to craft compromise legislation that would appease angry merchants without smothering the emerging supplier community, which is mostly minority.
The most recent effort was led by council member Jennifer Campbell, who took over the city’s proposed bill for street vendors last spring and promised that a new law would be unveiled in October.
Campbell, whose District 2 includes communities like Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach that have been significantly affected by vendors, announced this fall that the legislation would be delayed a few months. But she gave merchant groups hope by stipulating that a vote was scheduled for December 14th.
Although the legislation has not been disclosed, people familiar with Campbell’s efforts said the proposal would ban suppliers in some sensitive areas and encourage them to take classes in health, safety and entrepreneurship.
In late November, the Campbell team issued a “notice of hearing” for the December 14 meeting. In response to a request by the San Diego Union-Tribune at the time to see the proposed law, a Campbell spokesman said that “there are still some late adjustments being made to the ordinance that need to be cleared by the city’s attorney.”
Those delays continued into December, and Elo-Rivera, who replaced Campbell as board chairman on Dec. 6, said three days later that problems finalizing the proposal made canceling the scheduled vote just right.
“Given the importance of the subject and to be coherent with our commitment to transparency, we believe it is important that the council and the population have enough time to analyze the proposed ordinance and its impacts”, he said.
People look at jewelry and crystals being sold by a street vendor in Ocean Beach in 2019.
(John Gibbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said the latest delay makes sense, although he “remains committed to ensuring the city has a law in place as soon as possible that provides pathways to microentrepreneurship while protecting public health and safety”.
While vendor advocates say they welcome new municipal legislation with a focus on gray areas of state legislation, they want any policy proposal to be based on data and analysis rather than automatic feedback. They also say the rules should vary by neighborhood.
Dike Anyiwo, a public policy adviser to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said it’s important to get some legislation to begin the inevitable process of fixing the new law based on its impact.
“The council strongly supports having rules in the books,” he said. “The chamber does not exist to restrict the market. We want to make sure there is clarity. ”
– La Jolla Light team writer Ashley Mackin-Solomon and freelance writer Steven Mihailovich contributed to this report. ◆