In January, when The Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (SB 946) went into effect relaxing regulation of street vending, the new state law had a failsafe: allowing local jurisdictions to create rules for vendors adapted to their communities.
La Jollans, long known for opposing commercial advertising (even real estate signage), took umbrage with the new law. Many claimed it obstructs ocean views, interferes with public rights-of-way and infringes on local control.
La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. (LJPB) board member Phyllis Minick had just concluded an eight-year effort to rehabilitate the plaza above Children’s Pool in La Jolla with new landscaping and streetscape. Some feel the long-awaited public walkway is now being despoiled by vendors allowed to ply their wares. Ever since, civic groups like LJPB have been working hard to craft new rules reigning vendors in, while respecting their rights to operate under SB 946.
SB 946 allows local jurisdictions to: adopt additional requirements regulating time, place, and manner of sidewalk vending; require sidewalk vendors to submit information (name, address, description of merchandise, etc.) regarding their operations; while allowing localities to prescribe a violation fine schedule.
SB 946 prohibits localities from: mandating that sidewalk vendors operate only in specific parts of the public right-of-way, unless there is a health, safety, or wellness concern; banning sidewalk vendors from selling in parks, unless they are stationary vending from a single location; and restricting the number of sidewalk vendors permitted in the jurisdiction.
After months of effort, spearheaded by LJPB trustee Bob Evans, the park’s group has drafted and sent a letter to the City Attorney, Department of Parks and Recreation, and City Council advocating for new vending regulations.
“We’re very pleased with the city’s support in their current draft to regulate sidewalk vending,” said Evans. “Their proposal to prohibit sidewalk vending of all types at the main coastline parks and all along Coast Boulevard is because they’re very high-trafficked areas. Our LJPB position and mission will always be about preserving and maintaining the natural and scenic beauty of our very busy and crowded beach and park areas. Scripps Park/Cove is the most photographed spot in the city, and Children’s Pool is crowded year-round with people viewing the seals. And we want to ensure access and enjoyment for everyone.”
Evans’ LJPB colleagues agreed.
“The beautiful Children’s Pool Plaza, which opened in December 2018 after much planning and construction, [is] now is littered with T-shirt vendors, jewelry, furniture vendors and Jehovah Witnesses,” said Janet Stratford Collins. “Adding to that are the scooters that are carelessly left in pathways making it difficult to navigate through that area especially for the elderly and visually and physically challenged. The same type of vendors are in Scripps Park and the sidewalks. My personal view is to ban all vending along Coast Boulevard, parks and sidewalks included. They are a blight in our coastal community.”
“At the Children's Pool Plaza and Cove, the vendor tables and their signs interfere with pedestrian traffic flow and constitute a safety issue in areas of high traffic — both human and vehicular,” said Phyllis Minick. “Vendors obstruct views and intrude upon the natural environment. The commercial aspect of donations is an unfair competition with local merchants who pay high rents and general costs to do business. Free speech does not require commerce.”