Mission Beach residents and business owners gathered at Belmont Park Tuesday to express their frustrations over street vending.
“We’ve seen this park change from a place where families from all over the city would gather and enjoy one of the most popular beaches in the city, to a place that is overrun and has been taken over by street vendors,” Mission Beach Town Council President Larry Webb said.
Webb said Municipal Code 63.50, which is from the late 1980s, should prohibit retail and commercial uses in the Mission Beach park area.
“We believe that the city of San Diego has violated the California Coastal Act and the city's municipal code for the last several years by allowing street vending, which is a clear retail use, to take over Mission Beach Park,” he said.
The Mission Beach Town Council said that old law should supersede the ordinance that’s set to go into effect next week in many parts of San Diego.
According to Webb, that's important because the new ordinance can’t currently be enforced in beach communities due to a lack of approval from the Coastal Commission.
Street vendor Anya Prophet welcomes some of the upcoming rules, saying things have gotten a bit out of hand.
“Last summer it was a lot different,” said Prophet, who braids hair near Belmont Park. “Now people hold their spot … with their tents. And I can see how the community would be upset with that, because it's like they come out here in the morning for jogs and stuff like that and there's all these empty shells.”
Tony Sanfelice is a Mission Beach resident and a member of the environmental group Don’t Trash Mission Beach. He said garbage in the area has been a growing problem over the past few years.
“To see dirty diapers left in parking lots or buried in the sand, or glass bottles broken purposefully, or fires left, this is a daily onslaught,” Sanfelice said.
Leticia Torres is another street vendor at Mission Beach who agrees with most of the upcoming regulations, but is frustrated with what she calls a lack of respect — and in some cases outright racism — from a few members in the community.
“The racist people say you don't pay taxes. And right now we are just coming from the city hall,” she said, showing KPBS the paperwork for her taxes and business permits. “We paid the seller's permit, we have the ID — street vendor — and we have my receipt, everything. We pay taxes.”
Torres also said she is not taking any public assistance. "That's why I'm working,” Torres said. “We’re not criminals. No, we’re people. We like to work and I want to work in peace.”
San Diego’s new sidewalk vending ordinance takes effect on June 22.