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SDPD begins enforcement of sidewalk vending ordinance in Gaslamp Friday

A sign hangs over the entrance to the Gaslamp Quarter on Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
Tarryn Mento
A sign hangs over the entrance to the Gaslamp Quarter on Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego, Calif. Feb. 27, 2014.

The San Diego Police Department will begin citing violators of the city's sidewalk vending ordinance in the Gaslamp Quarter Friday, following weeks of outreach and education.

The ordinance, passed by the City Council in May, permits roaming and stationary sidewalk vendor micro-businesses to use the public right of way or public property for sidewalk vending, while regulating how, when and where permitted sidewalk vendors conduct business in San Diego. However, the ordinance specifically bans sidewalk vending in the Gaslamp Quarter and other specified areas.

For several weeks the city, through its code enforcement teams and SDPD, worked to educate sidewalk vendors operating in the Gaslamp Quarter about the law. The city recently installed more than 400 signs in the area, warning about illegal sidewalk vending.


According to the police department, this focused enforcement also follows recent violent incidents involving sidewalk vendors in the Gaslamp.

Starting Friday, officers from SDPD's Central Division will be contacting vendors operating in the area and citing them for violations. Those found in violation face potential fines ranging from $200 up to $1,000. They can also be subject to impoundment of carts, equipment and goods.

City Park Rangers are responsible for sidewalk vending enforcement at beaches and parks in San Diego.

The San Diego City Council voted to approve the ordinance earlier this year, bringing San Diego into compliance with SB 946, a California law that decriminalized sidewalk vending statewide and set parameters on how cities could impose regulations.

Sidewalk vendors and pushcart operators must pay $38 annually for a permit to sell their wares in San Diego. City staff initially recommended the new permit fee be as high as $230 per business, but negotiations in council chambers brought that number down to the same as a business tax certificate in the city. Following the first year of implementation, city staff will release an analysis to determine any fee modifications.


Food vendors are also required to obtain a San Diego County Health Permit and Food Handler Card.

The ordinance also sets up parameters for where vendors can physically set up — for example, 15 feet from another vendor, 50 feet from a major transit stop and 100 feet from any sidewalk or street closure.

For more information regarding the ordinance's parameters and frequently-asked-questions, go to