SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – A bill that would loosen rules for street food vendors passed the state Assembly on Wednesday and is headed back to the state Senate before, if it passes, it heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for his signature.
Senate Bill 972, introduced by Sen. Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), would remove barriers that stand in the way of food vendors getting permits.
Many vendors operate without permits, which could lead to vendors getting tickets or losing their equipment. If passed, the legislation would revise the size requirements of equipment (since current laws were written with food trucks in mind). It would also end criminal sanctions for health code violations, replacing them with fines.
“The bill would help reduce unpermitted vending, protect public health, and create a more equitable economy for women, low-income individuals and people of color who form a major part of the industry and contribute to the State’s economy as micro-businesses,” a press release from Gonzalez’ office states.
The bill passed 63-0, with 17 not voting.
“Every day, thousands of street food vendors across California venture out to create jobs by feeding their communities,” Rudy Espinoza, the executive director of Inclusive Action for the City, stated on behalf of the California Street Vendors Campaign. “Despite the broad support many street food vendors enjoy from the public, too many lack the resources to pay for the expensive permits and equipment that the California Retail Food Code requires. It is now time to make sure that our Retail Food Code acknowledges street vendors as members of our community and an important part of our local economies by creating a feasible pathway for them to join our public health system.”
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Not everyone is happy about the legislation.
An editorial in Palm Springs’ The Desert Sun warns of “concerning street-vendor behavior,” such as an explosion of an unpermitted vending cart on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf last summer.
“We propose a solution that maintains the vending culture throughout the state, and protects the public from unsafe foods, dangerous and unsanitary cooking practices, and other harmful ways of running a business,” the editorial states.