A vendor sells fruit to a passerby near the Junipero Beach parking lot on Tuesday January 16, 2024. Photo by Jake Gotta.

Vendors on Long Beach sidewalks will soon have to follow a new set of rules that the City Council preliminarily approved at a meeting Tuesday.

Until now, Long Beach has had few regulations governing street vending after the state legalized it in 2022.

Under the city’s new law, vendors must follow a host of rules limiting where they can sell, and they’ll be required to have a city business license and liability insurance in addition to a required health permit if they’re selling food.

Advocates for street vendors raised concerns at Tuesday’s meeting about how much it will cost street vendors to operate legally.

A health permit for someone selling prepackaged ice cream can cost $300 annually, plus a one-time inspection fee of $250 and another $300 annually for a business license.

“For you, $300 may not be a lot, but for someone making twenty thousand a year that’s a ridiculous amount of money,” said Gaby Hernandez, executive director of Organizing Rooted in Abolition Liberation and Empowerment (ÓRALE).

For people selling things like cut fruit, combined health fees increase to $1,175. A person operating a taco stand would be required to pay $730 annually for a health permit and a one-time inspection fee of $1,165, according to figures presented to the council Tuesday. And the required liability insurance will be another financial hurdle.

Hernandez and others called for the fees to be reduced as they have been in Los Angeles and to lengthen the rollout period to give vendors more time to comply.

The City Council opted to offer a subsidy for vendors of up to $1,500 to help cover the costs for the first year of the new law.

Once a vendor obtains a license and permit he or she would then be subject to a litany of rules about where they can operate.

The ordinance includes a list of various-size buffers that bar vendors from operating too close to things like light poles, intersections, driveways, schools and businesses that have lease agreements with the city such as the beach concession stands, Convention Center and Pike Outlets.

Some council members have said they want the city to strike a deal with the Pike Outlets to allow vendors to keep operating near shops, but it’s not clear if that will happen.

Deputy City Manager Tyler Bonanno-Curley said that the city has approached the Pike’s operator about the idea, and it will try to reach an agreement.

For now, though, the rules at the Pike and other areas generally south of Broadway are on hold. Because those areas are in the coastal zone, the California Coastal Commission has to approve them before they go into effect, something that’s expected to happen later this year.

Long Beach’s new rules have been under development for over a year since a pair of bills legalized street vending across the state but allowed cities to write some regulations setting limits and requirements.

The council twice delayed votes on local rules in order to refine some of the details. Now, the City Council is expected to take one more procedural vote at its Jan. 23 meeting before sending the rules to the mayor’s desk to be signed into law. City officials say that it will be about six months before they begin enforcing the ordinance.

Once they do, vendors could be fined or have their equipment and food impounded if they’re operating illegally. The Long Beach Police Department is not expected to be part of that enforcement unless there is illegal activity like vendors selling alcohol or there is some other imminent public threat, Bonnano-Curley said.

The council is expected to get an update on the rollout of the new law in six months when it could decide how to proceed with enforcement.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.