The City Council gave the go-ahead Tuesday night to draft an ordinance regulating street vending, but council members asked for changes that could make the rules more clear.
In recent weeks, there has been growing concern from street vendors that the recommendations put forth by the Public Works Department and the City Manager’s Office were too restrictive.
After a lengthy discussion in which many council members reiterated how confusing the recommendations were, portions of the proposed rules were amended, with some points to be brought back to the council for further consideration.
Some proposed amendments were to shorten the required distance between vendors, allow more vendors on beaches and in parks, and allow flashing signs and noise-makers on roaming vendors for advertising.
Councilmember Daryl Supernaw suggested a 15-foot buffer for vendors near L.A. County waterways and asked the City Manager’s Office to research a recommendation for vending near freeway on- and off-ramps.
A requirement for vendors to have signage to identify themselves for health and safety reasons was proposed by Councilmember Al Austin.
The council asked the City Manager’s Office to report back on after-hours enforcement, the possibility of allowing vendors at The Pike and Rainbow Lagoon, and recommendations for vending in mixed-use zoned areas.
The council also discussed the possibility of using grant funding to help street vendors meet requirements after an ordinance is passed.
The ordinance will still have to go through two readings before adoption, but Tuesday’s approval to move forward was the first step toward citywide regulation.
Street vendors and their supporters took the floor during public comment to urge the council against imposing harsh restrictions, which they said primarily targeted immigrants and lower-income entrepreneurs.
Gabriel Perez, a community organizer in Long Beach, called the initial recommendations “crippling.”
Other speakers, including a representative of state Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), encouraged the council to create an ordinance that furthered the progress of two California Senate Bills—946 (first introduced by Gonzalez) and 972, which decriminalized the practice and made it easier to gain permits.
A group of restaurant owners, wearing bright yellow shirts with “Save Our Jobs” on them, also spoke during public comment. They raised fairness concerns between street vending practices versus brick-and-mortar. They said brick-and-mortar restaurants pay taxes, are subject to regular health inspections and are required to obtain insurance.
And while street vendors would be required to obtain food handling licenses, health permits and a business license, mandatory insurance and health inspection enforcement are still being figured out.
The two groups clashed during public comment. At one point street vending supporters interrupted a brewery owner’s comment leading to him yielding his time. Restaurant owners were being filmed and street vending supporters held up signs against restaurant owners.
Mayor Rex Richardson reiterated the need for respect from all sides of the discussion, acknowledging the council “had its work cut out.”
Under the new state laws, the council is barred from considering concerns about economic competition, like those raised by restaurant owners, when crafting the rules.