Beach communities seeing uneven enforcement of sidewalk vendors under new ordinance
It’s been two weeks since San Diego’s new, more restrictive, ordinance regulating sidewalk vendors took effect, and the change is noticeable in the city’s beach communities.
There are still some vendors in places like Mission Beach and Ocean Beach, but the numbers are way down, said Lisa Apablasa, who has been selling near Mission Bay’s Belmont Park for three years.
“It’s probably a good 60% have disappeared,” Apablasa said. “The whole beach used to be full of vendors everywhere. Like you couldn't even walk on the grass or anywhere. So now that you actually have to have the vending permit, it has gotten rid of a lot of people.”
The street vending ordinance took effect on June 22. It established different rules for different locations for health and safety reasons. This includes full or partial bans in certain urban areas, when venders can sell, and the distance between a vendor and nearby significant landmarks.
Apablasa said park rangers have been removing tents and other gear left overnight in Mission Beach. They’ve also been kicking out those without proper permits.
The enforcement has been different in Ocean Beach, according to the neighborhood’s MainStreet Association Executive Director Denny Knox. She said they haven't seen such a reduction.
“I think initially it had an impact,” Knox said. “But we’ve just seen like this last weekend, on Sunday, there were a lot of vendors down on the beach again, just setting up, doing their own thing.”
The ordinance was supposed to get rid of all street vendors in high-traffic places like the Gaslamp Quarter year round, but the enforcement hasn’t worked according to Executive Director Mike Trimble of the Gaslamp's association.
Trimble told KPBS dozens of hot dog vendors show up in the area after 9 p.m. and code enforcement officers are overwhelmed. He said the situation is the same as last month, before the ordinance was enacted.
But in beach communities, the outright banning of vendors in certain high-traffic areas can’t be enforced yet because the California Coastal Commission must first give its approval. The approval could come in the coming months.
“I know I'm prepared to do other things, like markets, that are in San Diego ... ,” Apablasa said. “So I do have a backup plan. But we do have to work with what we can right now until the coastal commissioners pass their part, then we’ll go from there.”
Knox said that a group of residents plans to bring up the street vending ordinance during the Coastal Commission's July 13 meeting with hopes that commissioners will speed up the timeline for more wide-ranging enforcement.