As mobile food vendors, street vendors and food truck operators have faced difficulties obtaining health permits—often resulting in Health Department sweeps or run-ins with law enforcement—Long Beach is slated to assist those business owners through the process.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Admiral Kidd Park, the Long Beach Health Department is hosting a workshop and inviting vendors to come together to not only learn about the application process for health permits, but also to get information about changes that are coming to the California Retail Food Code next year.

Vendors who attend the workshop will receive a 10% discount on their first health permit, according to the city. Spanish, Khmer and Tagalog interpreters will be on site during the workshop.

“Food trucks and vendors are an important part of our community’s cultural fabric,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “The mobile food vendor workshop will help business owners learn how to operate safely and legally in Long Beach.”

At the workshop, vendors will get an overview of Senate Bill 972 and Senate Bill 946, two state laws that loosen restrictions on street vending and make it easier for vendors to obtain permits.

Senate Bill 972, first introduced by state Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) in February and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, amends the California Retail Food Code and makes it easier for vendors to secure health permits by removing barriers that previously required them to have access to sinks, restrooms and water tanks. SB 972 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 946, which took effect in 2019, decriminalized sidewalk vending 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.

The workshop comes as some street vendors have faced significant challenges operating in Long Beach. Along with Health Department sweeps that allow agents to throw away a vendor’s food and products, vendors have also been subjected to attacks and robberies.

On Aug. 2, local taquero Lionel Perez, who operates the popular East Long Beach taco stand Tacos Lionydas, was the target of harassment by a man, whom he caught on video shouting racist remarks at his staff.

Almost two months later, on Sept. 28, the city’s Health Department received a complaint about the stand, and it was shut down for violating many food and safety codes including operating without a permit, which allowed agents to throw away Perez’s food and materials.

The Health Department had made contact with Perez twice before as part of its “education first” approach and shut down the stand after the third violation. However, Perez said the education only involved him being handed a slip of paper that was difficult to understand.

And in May of last year, Long Beach raspado vendor Eliu Ramirez was attacked while working, and when he called police for help, they ticketed him instead. After a video of Ramirez recounting his story went viral, the Long Beach Police Department said it would rescind the citations.

Through outreach like the upcoming workshop, the city says it is “committed to assisting all food-based businesses that wish to operate in the city.”

In response to the changes coming next year, the city is currently working to develop new regulations that align with SB 946 and SB 972 by means of a sidewalk vending survey available now through Dec. 18. The survey allows residents, business owners, sidewalk vendors and customers to share their thoughts on the future of street vending.

All vendors are invited to attend the workshop, and while an RSVP is not necessary, it is appreciated, according to the city. Those who are interested in attending or cannot attend but have questions about obtaining a health permit can call (562) 570-4132 or email [email protected].

Admiral Kidd Park is located at 2125 Santa Fe Ave.

How should Long Beach regulate street vending? The city wants your opinion