This week, city leaders unveiled a new proposal that could change where and when vendors can operate their business.
It has become the norm to see dozens of street vendors setting up shop in seaside neighborhoods and parts of downtown. Some business owners who have witnessed the increase firsthand in recent years say regulations are desperately needed to keep things fair.
“We pay taxes, we pay rent, and they don’t have to worry about any of that,” said Mike Soltan, owner of Greek restaurant Kojack’s in Mission Beach.
Soltan has been operating his restaurant for decades. He says vendors are now setting up right in front of his business.
“Last summer…it was crazy. They sell hot dogs, they sell food in a little cart and you don’t know if it’s safe,” he said.
He shared with NBC 7 that he’s seen nearby restaurants close — he thinks increased competition and the pandemic are to blame.
Angel Garcia is a store manager at Wings Beachwear a few blocks away. She says that while the vendors outside her store don’t particularly bother her, she hopes any new legislation that is passed will keep vendors and shop owners in mind.
“Probably just to respect the storefronts…to have some spacing between the doors so people can always see that there are shops in that area and not just the vendors,” she said.
The new proposal is called a compromise: it aims to let sellers prosper while protecting access to cherished public spaces. If passed, it would regulate the months and areas in which vendors could legally operate. You can read the legislation in full here.
NBC 7 also spoke with Sumetta Larrue, a graphics saleswoman who has been selling her work in Mission Beach for a few weekends.
“I just try different places…try to introduce the business to new people,” she said. Larrue says that, like many other sellers, selling her designs has helped her stay afloat amid the pandemic — something she hopes city leaders will consider in their ongoing conversations.
“Remember, everyone is trying to make an honest living here. Whether they have their business license or not,” she said.
The bill will be discussed by the city council’s economic development committee on Wednesday. If approved, it will go to the full council on March 1.