City Council committee takes up sidewalk vending: Proposes year-round moratorium in Scripps Park


The San Diego City Council’s Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations committee (ED&IR) took up sidewalk vending during its July 25 meeting, drafting local regulations to address San Diego-specific issues stemming from a State law legalizing the practice, which took effect Jan. 1.

Dubbed “The Safe Sidewalk Vending Act,” Senate Bill (SB) 946 decriminalizes sidewalk vending and establishes requirements for local regulation of sidewalk vendors. The bill has been causing some heartburn at local community advisory groups since its implementation earlier this year. La Jolla Parks & Beaches, for one, expressed concern at its monthly meetings about the influx of sidewalk vendors in shoreline parks.

“Last year, the State in its infinite wisdom passed a law permitting sidewalk vending anywhere, subject to local regulation,” La Jolla Parks & Beaches chair Ann Dynes said, via e-mail to those who expressed interest in the issue. “The City was very slow to turn its attention to this and you may have seen an increase in vendors at places like the Children’s Pool over the course of this year. This is a regulation that will have a significant effect on the aesthetics of our coastline.”

During the ED&IR meeting, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Policy and Council Affairs coordinator Conrad Wear presented the City’s recommendations for local regulations. He explained that the City’s proposed ordinance: “establishes criteria for issuance and revocation of a sidewalk vendor permit; establishes distance requirements to ensure accessibility and to reduce pedestrian and vehicle conflict; regulates operations in parks and beaches; regulates heavily trafficked sidewalks and areas of high pedestrian activity; sets hours of operation and operating procedures in residential and non-residential areas; requires clean and sanitary conditions within the vicinity of sidewalk vendors; requires compliance with the American with Disabilities Act of 1990; regulates the use of sidewalk vending equipment; and sets penalties for violations in accordance with SB 946.”

The draft regulation has not yet undergone City Attorney review.

On “heavily trafficked sidewalks,” sidewalk vending would be prohibited, and the only applicable area of La Jolla would be Coast Boulevard from Cave Street to Coast Boulevard South, and the La Jolla Shores boardwalk. However, some suggested during public comment that Girard Avenue and Prospect Street be added.

The regulations also call for a summer moratorium in San Diego’s Shoreline Parks (Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla); and sidewalk vendors may need to obtain an additional park sales permit to vend in Scripps Ellen Browning Park in The Village and Kellogg Park in The Shores.

The draft also delved into requirements to obtain a permit; required distances from City features such as fire lanes, public restrooms and street closures, among others; restrictions in City parks; size requirements for standing vending tables; items prohibited for sale; violations; enforcement and more.

A number of speakers were present representing all sides of the issue.

Some called for postponing the vote until affected vendors could weigh in (a notion supported by half the ED&IR members), others represented all areas of San Diego, from La Jolla to Little Italy and City Heights, many of whom had suggested amendments to the ordinance.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches vice-chair Bob Evans said he and the board were “pleased with the overall thrust of the draft,” but had concerns with a few points.

“Scripps Park is the most photographed spot in San Diego, and the Children’s Pool is a draw particularly in the winter during (harbor seal) pupping season December to May,” he said. “Because of the year-round heavy traffic and the scenic and natural beauty of the Children’s Pool and Scripps Park/Cove, we urge that the draft be amended to provide for an all year-round ban on vendor sales in these La Jolla shoreline parks.”

Agreeing, District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry recommended a survey of street vendors to find out what their issues and concerns are, and asked for an amendment to prohibit selling in Scripps Park year-round due to the harbor seal pupping season in Children’s Pool, narrowness of the sidewalks along the La Jolla coastline and year-round pedestrian traffic.

The draft regulations likely won’t go before the full City Council until September, but a motion passed unanimously to move the draft (with amendments to come) forward to the Council for review and approval.