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San Diego’s long-awaited street vendor ordinance may be unveiled in December

Sidewalk vendors set up shop near La Jolla Cove.
(Courtesy of Bob Evans)

Legislation has been sought by merchants in downtown and beach areas.

Long-awaited legislation on San Diego’s sidewalk vendors could be coming in December, when City Council President Jennifer Campbell says she plans to unveil a proposal.

“After receiving critical input from everyone this issue touches, I believe this ordinance will balance the needs of residents, vendors and our public spaces,” Campbell said in a statement. “I look forward to addressing this crucial issue for San Diegans.”

The proposed law, which would take effect in January at the earliest, will come later than many hoped. When Campbell began spearheading efforts to regulate vendors in May, her staff said she planned to propose legislation in October.

Campbell represents District 2, which includes Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Mission Beach,
Clairemont and Linda Vista.

City is criticized for delaying legislation; vendor advocates say more analysis is needed before adopting a law.

The proposed regulations will come amid an uproar of complaints about unfair competition and illegal dumping of trash and grease in some neighborhoods.

Merchant groups downtown and in the city’s beach communities say vendors have flooded business districts and parks with no restrictions because of a 3-year-old state law encouraging street vending as a new class of small business.

Advocates for street vendors say critics have exaggerated the dangers and disruption created by the vendors and that those complaining are mostly businesses frustrated that they are facing new competition from them.

While the advocates say they welcome new city legislation focused on clearing up gray areas in the state law, they say they want any policy proposal to be based on data and analysis instead of knee-jerk reactions. They also say the rules should vary by neighborhood.

Campbell said her proposed legislation won’t be unveiled until a few days before the Dec. 14 City Council meeting. However, she expressed confidence it will be well-received.

San Diego City Council President Jennifer Campbell
San Diego City Council President Jennifer Campbell is spearheading an upcoming proposed street vending ordinance.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

But she added that the legislation is still a work in progress, saying that “final specifics” must be ironed out.

Campbell took over the street vendor issue from Mayor Todd Gloria last spring. Gloria said Campbell made sense as the lead legislator because her district includes beach communities most affected by the surge in street vending. ◆