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Street vending laws now include San Diego’s beach and coastal areas

When San Diego’s street vending ordinance took effect in June, many vendors found a new place to set up shop.

“Well we got a lot more vendors here. Because all the people who were inland came here. And all the other beaches had the same thing happen,” said Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association.

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Knox said beach access and public cleanliness became a problem with a growing amount of street vendors over the past few years. With the new law being enforced in Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter, she said, “I think a lot of the vendors took advantage of an opportunity where there was no oversight — they didn't have any rules. So they said: ‘As long as it lasts, we’ll do this.’”

Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Sidewalk vendors in Ocean Beach sell an array of different items along the boardwalk, Jan. 13, 2023.

But, now, there will be oversight in the beach communities, as well. It will start with a few weeks of educational outreach to vendors.

After that, they could face citations — just like the ones that are already being handed out to vendors in Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter.

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“They told us we can't vend any more, even before summer and after summer,” said Jimmy, an Ocean Beach street vendor who didn't want his last name used.

Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Sidewalk vendors in Ocean Beach sell an array of different items along the boardwalk, Jan. 13, 2023.

He was one of roughly a dozen street vendors running their businesses along the Ocean Beach boardwalk on Friday.

He said he didn’t see the ordinance as a fair balance.

He has a street vending permit, but under the law he’ll have to move out of the high-traffic beachfront spot where he currently works.

Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
An artists sells her paintings along the boardwalk in Ocean Beach, Jan. 13, 2023.

Jimmy told KPBS he’s frustrated that there’s nowhere else in the city where he can legally sell and make enough profit.

“I want to be my own boss, have my own business one day. Hopefully they change their mind to let us stay here or bring some kind of new rule — like being here two days a week,” the OB sidewalk vendor said.

There was a recommendation by the city to designate “entrepreneurship zones” for the vendors. Jimmy said he’s still waiting to hear more about that.

The city is still accepting applications for sidewalk vending permits.

In the meantime, park rangers will start citing coastal vendors who are improperly selling their goods beginning on Feb. 1.