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Pasadena Police Crack Down On Illegal Vendors

Published on Saturday, June 20, 2009 | 4:42 pm

The Pasadena Police Department partnered with the city’s Health Department to crack down on food vendors operating illegally within city limits on Saturday.

Six police officers from the Neighborhood Action Team, a specialized detail unit that deals with quality of life issues, and three representatives from the city’s Health Department performed a sweep on June 20 to monitor the operations of street vendors.

The sweep was part of a three-month campaign the city initiated after receiving numerous complaints about illegal vending from community members, other vendors and businesses, explained William Kimura, Environmental Health Program Manager for the Environmental Health Services Division.

“We set out to notify everybody, including the illegal vendors, that we’re going to be out on a sweep but we didn’t tell them what date,” Kimura said. “Today is the day we picked.”

Sgt. Jason Clawson said his unit was targeting illegal vendors for two main reasons. The primary reason, Clawson explained, is because illegal vendors who are not following the city’s rules are exposing consumers to health hazards.

For example, Clawson continued, illegal vendors may prepare food from their carts but have no sink to wash their hands in, or may keep propane tanks around without fire extinguishers nearby.

“It’s for the safety of the citizens,” he said. “There’s a lot of hazards for this type of operation. People have been sick from unsanitary conditions. So that’s what we’re trying to do – we’re trying to prevent the public from getting sick.”

Clawson said that the purpose of the sweep is also to regulate for the sake of licensed businesses in the area.

“You have legitimate business owners that are selling food products and drinks and they’re following the rules by keeping their permits and products. Then you have these illegal vendors that don’t get permits to operate, which basically hurts the normal business owners,” he said.

The detail examined the permits of city vendors at various locations and by mid-day Saturday they had confiscated six vendor carts. Violations issued to these vendors included operating without permits, operating with expired permits and operating with a permit improperly.

“They just have to follow the little rules,” said Jose DeLaCruz, Supervisor for the Graffiti Abatement Department and one of the representatives assisting in the sweep.

“That’s what gets you – the little rules, bottom line,” DeLaCruz continued. “[These vendors] are not criminals or anything, but they’re right under that.”

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