City seeks public input on sidewalk vending regulations at 2 workshops

Long Beach is in the process of developing new guidelines to regulate sidewalk vending locally that not only comply with recent state laws but also work in the best interest of vendors, residents, business owners and customers alike.

Now, the city is slated to host two workshops in its latest effort to solicit community input on the matter. Members of the public are invited to share their thoughts on the future of street and sidewalk vending as the city develops the new guidelines that fall in line with Senate Bill 946 and Senate Bill 972, which took effect earlier this year.

The first meeting will take place on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Cal Rec Community Center, 1550 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. Registration is not required for the meeting, but it will help city staff estimate turnout, according to a release.

The second meeting will be held virtually via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and registration is required to attend.

Both meetings will be conducted in English and Spanish, but those who need interpretation in Khmer or Tagalog can request it by completing the registration form by 11 a.m. on Jan. 23, according to the city.

SB 972, which took effect on Jan. 1, modified the California Retail Food Code to simplify the permitting process for street vendors.

SB 946, which took effect in 2019, decriminalized sidewalk vending without a permit and allowed food and merchandise vendors to operate on public sidewalks and other pedestrian pathways. SB 946 removed the city’s ability to regulate vendors unless there is a health, safety or welfare issue—which is where the interest to develop new regulations comes in.

The city has been in the process of developing new guidelines for sidewalk vendors since last March, when 1st District Councilmember Mary Zendejas first proposed a resolution to the City Council. It was approved with an 8-1 vote, but some people still had concerns about “bad operators”—vendors who did not comply with regulations or made people sick with their products.

​​“We have an opportunity to connect with residents, business owners and sidewalk vendors and work together to create a sidewalk vending ordinance that supports the specific needs of Long Beach,” Zendejas said at the time.

Since then, the city has conducted a sidewalk vending survey for residents to share their thoughts on the operations of the mobile food and merchandise vendors, and officials expect to release those findings early this year. Last month, the Long Beach Health Department also hosted an in-person workshop to teach street vendors and food truck operators about how to obtain a permit once the new laws kicked in. The event brought out a large turnout of vendors who had questions about how the new regulations will affect them.

While the city develops the new regulations, sidewalk vendors must follow these requirements, according to the release from November:

  • Vendors must not operate in the street.
  • Vendors with food operations must have a city health permit.
  • Vendors who are not selling food must have a special event vendor permit or business license and are typically not allowed on public property without special permission.
  • Vendors must comply with applicable local, state and federal laws, including the California Retail Food Code and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

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Laura Anaya-Morga is a general assignment reporter for the Long Beach Post.
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