Parks & Beaches takes on sidewalk vending bill: Advisory group wants local recommendations for La Jolla

A vendor sets up shop on Children’s Pool Plaza.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Less than a year after the unveiling of the Children’s Pool Plaza, members of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group (LJP&B) are starting to see it marked with vendors selling their wares.

And these vending operations became legal on Jan. 1 following the passage of Senate Bill 946, dubbed the “Safe Sidewalk Vending Act.”

However, LJP&B is looking to regulate sidewalk vending in La Jolla, and discussed its efforts at the April 22 meeting at the Rec Center. Authored by State Senator Richard Lara, the bill “prohibits a local authority … from regulating sidewalk vendors” and was signed by former California Gov. Jerry Brown.

“SB 946 is now a law that applies to vendors who sell food and merchandise from a cart, a stand, or other fixture on public right-of-ways,” explained LJP&B trustee Bob Evans. “And we’re already seeing an increase in Scripps Park and near Children’s Pool.”

In the course of his research, Evans said: “I found a number of cities that have enacted local regulations” that keep the law, but create rules specific to their communities.

“I think the regulations are good news because they put a damper, if not a complete eradication, of vending in our parks,” Evans said. “In Los Angeles, no street vending is allowed near large event venues and all vendors require a permit. Carlsbad has concerns about vending at parks for reasons that include ‘an undue concentration of commercial activity’ and protecting those engaged in recreation.”

However, the city with the strictest regulations is the one Evans is most in favor of replicating: Carmel-by-the-Sea. Its limits include no vending within 25 feet of a fire hydrant or public-use item such as bike rack, bench or restroom; the conduct of the vendors cannot interfere with traffic or pedestrian movement, or tend to interfere with or endanger public peace; and curbs the number of vending permits issued in select areas.

Further, Evans noted, Carmel-by-the-Sea has areas that are like Children’s Pool, Scripps Park and La Jolla Shores, and because the regulations are working there, they should work here.

He said a letter would be drafted and presented to the board next month for approval, and then sent to the City Attorney and Department of Park & Rec and City Council in support of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s rules being implemented here.

However, there was the lingering question of enforcement.

LJP&B trustee John Shannon said: “One of the most important things about having rules is a way to enforce them. What we know is we have laws that say you can’t go more than eight miles per hour on a boardwalk while riding an electric scooter, which is not being enforced, so what (entity) would enforce vendor rules? I think there needs to be strong language in the letter and the rules.”

Evans replied, to chuckles from the room: “I think the simplest solution is to have park rangers enforce these rules.”

The board applauded Evans for his efforts and agreed to await the correspondence before a vote. The La Jolla Shores Association previously voted to join LJP&B in its effort to find appropriate vending regulations for the area. It is unknown when it will discuss and/or vote on the recommendations.

Also at Parks & Beaches

Palms project: The board has raised about half the money needed to trim the dried “beards” of the palm trees at 300 Coast Blvd. about which residents have expressed concerns. Trustee Evans reported after collecting a series of estimates, the total would be about $1,200. “We have pledges from one local condo’s HOA and one other individual,” he said. The board would also like to see contributions from nearby residents who want the trees trimmed.

In the meantime, Evans said he has applied for a right-of-entry permit, and is waiting for a response from the City. The issue is a grouping of palm trees that have not been trimmed for years with drooping dried fronds. Because of its proximity to a nearby belvedere where people reportedly smoke, some have expressed concern about the dried trees being a fire hazard.

The palm trees for which La Jolla Parks & Beaches is collecting funds to trim.
(Light File)

Children’s Pool beach access: Although trustee John Leek sent a letter to the Department of Park & Rec on his own against the renewal of the permit to close Children’s Pool during harbor seal pupping season, the LJP&B board voted to also sign their names and submit a letter that had been approved by the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) earlier this year.

The Coastal Commission will hear a permit extension request in June for the “installation of a guideline rope, including support posts, foundations, informational signs a three-foot opening to provide beach and ocean access and to create a buffer between humans and harbor seals that haul out on the La Jolla Children’s pool beach through Aug. 14, 2029” and “closure of Children’s Pool beach to all public access during harbor seal pupping season (Dec. 15 to May 15) through Aug. 14, 2029.”

The letter states, in part: “Please reject the City’s application for beach closure permit extensions without imposing intended improvement standards. Instead, require a better beach management plan that accommodates all users of the beach with clean sand and water. The Children’s Pool Beach closure was an extreme measure which has encouraged colonization by more seals at Children’s Pool and nearby beaches. This will only lead to more demands for more closed beaches as popular urban recreational beaches are occupied by the growing seal population. This is of great concern to the La Jolla Community Planning Association and anyone wanting to maintain and improve coastal access in La Jolla.”

LJP&B Tom Brady opined that the letter: “confirms (this board’s opinion as stated in) a letter from May 2015. It states, in part, that this board opposes the continued presence of the rope barrier. This is a consistent position.”

However, the board was not entirely unified in its opposition. Animal rights advocate Jane Reldan said with the barrier and closure: “There has been peace and quiet. The seals have been protected when they need it most and they are not disturbed when people access the beach, because of the viewing guideline rope. I believe the City is in its rights to apply for a 10-year permit extension, since the five year permit has obviously worked.”

The motion to sign LJP&B’s name to the letter and submit it to the Coastal Commission passed, with Reldan in opposition.

Scripps Park picnic area: A project to renovate the picnic area of Scripps Park is on hold. The board had asked “creative architect” (as referenced by trustee Patrick Ahern) Erik Holtsmark to come up with a design to revitalize the area. But, some of his ideas were “a little too creative,” such as replacing the existing tables with nautical-themed seating structures. An earlier facet of the plan was to remove the trees, but that was quickly struck down.

Dynes said other ideas were more complicated than most of the people on the committee would like to see. As such, she said the plan is “off the table for now” and “dead for the moment.”

La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets 4 p.m. Monday, May 20 (one week earlier than usual due to the Memorial Day holiday) at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.