It’s not unusual to walk through Junipero Beach and find street vendors cutting up fruit, selling drinks, ice cream or even giving haircuts. But that may soon change.
On Tuesday, the City Council will review recommended changes to Long Beach’s sidewalk vending regulations that were headed by the Public Works Department and the City Manager’s Office.
The city has been grappling with how to deal with sidewalk vendors after two California Senate Bills—946 and 972—decriminalized the practice, made it easier to gain permits, and allowed local authorities to adopt regulations related to health and safety.
To comply with the new state laws, the city has set out to regulate the previously criminalized businesses. Senate Bill 946, which was first introduced by state Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and was supported by the City Council, allows the city to require a permit, limit hours of operation and prohibit vending in certain areas as long as it is not unduly restrictive and to address community “health, safety, or welfare concerns.”
While state legislators have touted the new laws as a way to ease the burden on street vendor operations, the recommendations the City Council will consider Tuesday could significantly curtail where the businesses can operate.
The proposed changes come after a survey commissioned by the city last year, along with public meetings, showed general support for sidewalk vending from community members, with health and safety and questions about where they’ll operate being the primary concerns.
The recommendations put forth are the culmination of a third-party report, the survey, best practices from other cities, outreach and department experience, Deputy City Manager Katy Nomura said.
“Tomorrow night, the council will let us know what they like, what they don’t like, and how they feel about these regulations,” Nomura said. Should the recommendations, and any amendments be accepted, the city attorney will draft an ordinance to be voted on at a later date.
Over two dozen proposed regulations, if accepted, could prohibit vendors from popular locations like Junipero Beach. Setting up at the beach, which is classified as a park, would mean vendors would not be able to vend in the parking lot, something that is common at Junipero Beach.
Vendors could be required to stay at least 500 feet away from beach and park concession stands that have contracts with the city, like Saltwater Deck, Louisiana Charlie’s and others that are readying to open across the city’s shoreline.
Beach vendors would have to be within 10 feet of the bike path, 100 feet away from the lifeguard tower, 25 feet away from all beach access and must comply with all disability access standards, including federal requirements laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Some proposed citywide rules would require vendors to remain 40 feet apart from other vendors and maintain 4 feet of sidewalk access for pedestrians while staying 18 inches away from the curb and 5 feet away from things like street lights, utility boxes and parking meters.
The Public Works Department and the City Manager’s Office do not have a map of spaces where street vendors can operate within the proposed regulations.
The full report, including all recommendations, can be found here.
The City Council meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, and can be viewed online. Public comment is available for all agenda items.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify how close street vendors would be allowed to operate to the beach bike path under the proposed regulations.