Pasadena Begins Process of Drafting New Regulations for Street Vendors

Published : Monday, December 3, 2018 | 6:18 AM

A Pasadena street vendor in action at a local public event in 2015.

Pasadena officials will vote Monday on directing the city attorney to draft a new city ordinance governing street vending in order to bring city policies into line with new state laws.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 946 into law in September, which restricts the regulations local jurisdictions can place upon street vendors.

The new law’s provisions include requiring cities to deal with street vending violations as municipal fines, rather than as criminal offenses. But it also allows local jurisdictions to continue requiring street vendors to obtain business licenses and health permits. The legislation takes effect Jan. 1.

Pasadena’s policies need to change in order to comply with the new state law, Councilmember Victor Gordo said.

“So we will have to revisit our ordinance in order to ensure that our local regulations continue to give people the right to engage in business activity, while at the same time ensuring that the food that they offer to the public is safe for public consumption,” he said.

The Pasadena Public Safety Committee will hold a vote during Monday’s meeting on directing the city attorney to draft a new street vending ordinance within the next 30 days. The proposed ordinance would then ultimately make its way to the City Council for debate and vote.

“I would encourage the public to be engaged,” Gordo said.

Food from street vendors is perfectly safe, so long as they comply with health regulations, Pasadena Public Health Department Director Michael Johnson.

“Mobile vending can be conducted in compliance with the state health and safety laws associated with food and we have quite a number of permitted vendors that folks can see around the city,” he said.

“But there are those circumstances where folks are vending and they’re not permitted. And that is a concern,” Johnson said. “Disease risks from food are very real, as we’ve seen recently with the E. coli concerns with romaine lettuce.”

The new street vending regulations will apply to merchandise, as well as food. Restrictions under the new ordinance are also expected to address issues such as keeping sidewalks compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act and rules for large events, like the Rose Parade, according to a city staff report.

State legislators cited a need to protect low-income and immigrant communities from the negative effects of aggressive street vending ordinances in their support for SB 946, the staff report notes.

The regulations proposed herein balance the need to protect low-income and immigrant communities while protecting the general health, safety and welfare of the entire Pasadena community,” the report states.

Pasadena Latino Forum Co-Chair Yuny Parada said she was happy to see the process moving forward.

“I think it is a great opportunity for our community,” she said.

“I feel, especially for Latinos, this is the way to get into a job,” Parada said. ”Many times they don’t get hired, but because they do have these entrepreneurial aspirations… this is a good avenue to do it.”

Parada added that she felt the worries over safety were overblown.

“It is not so outrageously dangerous, per se. I think that I will have that same danger from a street vendor than from a restaurant,” she said. “Anybody that doesn’t feel safe with eating from the street, don’t do it.”

Gordo said the city has a responsibility to regulate street vendors.

“This is a public health issue and a public safety issue. People have the right to sell in Pasadena so long if our local ordinance is respected and adhered to, and that ordinance is intended solely to ensure that food that is being offered to the public is safe,” he said. “It’s not a political issue, nor should it become one.”

Monday’s Public Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. at Pasadena City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Ave.

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