California lawmakers pass bill to streamline permits for street vendors

Senate Bill 972 Passes California State Legislature

By Dolores Quintana

Despite the California Safe Sidewalk Vending Act of 2018 (Senate Bill 946) decriminalizing street food vending when former Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, many street food vendors have encountered issues due to state dated retail code as noted. by

A new bill, Senate Bill 972, aims to update the code and make it easier for street food vendors to navigate the health permit process and sell their food. This bill would also help ensure public safety and could eliminate fines and legal issues that street food vendors have been subjected to across the state.

Now, street food vendors are forced to deal with a mountain of red tape and outdated standards in order to obtain a health permit.

To obtain a health permit, street vendors are required to abide by the rules of a “mobile food facility,” which is more like food trucks than cart vendors. The rules state that vendors must have three sinks and exhaust ventilation, which is a more appropriate requirement for a large vendor and has no rules for vendors who don’t have such a large operation like the elote, the bacon-wrapped hot dog or tamale vendors.

The City of Los Angeles has been issuing street food permits since 2020. However, only 204 vendors have met the necessary requirements to obtain a permit according to Civil Eats, as reported by Eater Los Angeles. If a vendor does not have a license, they can be cited and fined by the city.

SB 972 aims to simplify the retail food code in a way that helps small vendors who need help the most. The bill would change the requirements a vendor would have to meet when purchasing a health department-approved food cart and sanction state agencies for developing a uniform model of food cart that would be lightweight and available. for sale to vendors. The bill would allow agencies that regulate food sales in California to work with individual sellers rather than pursuing the process and laws that favor caterers and those who can buy a food truck.

Long Beach State Senator Lena Gonzalez was the representative who introduced Senate Bill 972 earlier this year and formed a committee of real street vendors who could guide the bill to help small sellers. One of the vendors on the committee is Cesar Benitez, who sells Aguas Frescas commercially. Like many of these vendors, Benitez wanted to follow the law and be able to sell without fear of citations or fines, but after ordering a street vendor cart from a company recommended by the Department of Health, the cart was never delivered. .

Senate Bill 972 is expected to go to the Senate Appropriations Committee. If approved, the bill will then go to Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature, which is the final hurdle before it becomes law.