Sidewalk Vending: How to be a Smart Consumer

June 13, 2019
by Stephanie Venegas

Sidewalk Vending: How to be a Smart Consumer

Recently, the Santa Monica City Council approved new laws for a comprehensive sidewalk vending program to create a pathway for vending in spaces that were formerly restricted. The Council acted in response to the state’s passage of the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, which decriminalized sidewalk vending in public areas. The new program puts public health and safety at the forefront and expands economic opportunities for those who choose to vend lawfully under the program.

With these new laws, it is important for residents and consumers to know how to make smart choices when purchasing goods from sidewalk vendors.

  1. When buying from a sidewalk vendor, it is important to only make purchases from those vendors who have a Vending Permit issued by the City of Santa Monica. This permit—which vendors are required to display via a decal fixed to their cart or worn on a badge—indicates that the vendor is lawfully operating in the City and has taken the proper steps to sell their goods.
  2. If the vendor you are buying from is selling food, it is also important to make sure that the vendor has a valid Los Angeles County issued Public Health Permit. This permit displayed below, has a colored sticker containing the county seal, shows that the vendor is in compliance with all county and state food safety regulations and is safely selling their food items in the area. 
  3. Don't forget that Santa Monica's new program restricts sidewalk vending in certain locations in Downtown as well as at the Pier and beach. These congested, high-traffic areas are restricted or limited due to the public safety risks that sidewalk vending activities can create. Such conditions all pose a danger to public health and can result in you becoming ill. Limiting food purchases to vendors who have properly obtained a Public Health Permit will minimize the risks to your health.
Not having an LA County issued Public Health Permit could mean:

  • The vendor doesn’t have clean water on site to wash their hands or utensils;
  • There are unsanitary conditions, which could include unclean food equipment;
  • Food was obtained from an unapproved source;
  • Food is being stored at unsafe temperatures, which can promote the growth of harmful and dangerous bacteria;
  • Food is not being protected from contamination

For more information about how to become a licensed vendor in Santa Monica, click here.

We hope this information has been helpful. If you have questions or need more assistance, please email

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