What You Need to Know About Sidewalk Vending in Santa Monica 

January 9, 2019
by Anuj Gupta

What You Need to Know About Sidewalk Vending in Santa Monica 

Santa Monica is working to address the effects of Senate Bill 946 (signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018), which has decriminalized sidewalk vending across the state and established an administrative penalty system for enforcement at the local level. The City is working to put in place a local ordinance that complies with the state law, protects public safety and health, and expands opportunities for those who seek to vend lawfully and safely.

What does the new state law do?

The California Law, which took effect on January 1, 2019, prohibits a local jurisdiction from adopting rules or regulations to regulate or prohibit sidewalk vendors unless it first adopts a permitting program that requires a vendor to obtain a license from the local government before selling food or merchandise. The legislation gives cities some limited abilities to regulate the time, place, and manner of vending based on public safety and health concerns. Municipalities will also be required to dismiss all cases currently being prosecuted and allow individuals who had previously been convicted to petition for dismissal. 

What is the City of Santa Monica doing?

City staff are in the process of developing a local ordinance that complies with SB 946, aligned with the law’s goal of expanding economic opportunity while preserving public safety and public health—with a particular focus on our most sensitive and high-traffic public spaces. An internal working group across several City departments is developing a regulatory approach and drafting specific rules and regulations that will comply with the state law, provide an accessible permitting program to create pathways for vendors, and put in place tailored, enforceable restrictions that protect key areas and spaces of the City.

When will Council be considering the vending ordinance?

Staff intends to bring a comprehensive vending ordinance before the City Council in early spring 2019. Our intent is to put in place an ordinance that can be effective, legally compliant, and meaningfully enforceable from the outset, which is why we are putting the time and thought into making our best recommendation to the Council.

What happens in the meantime?

All vending that occurs in the City—both before and after any comprehensive ordinance is approved by the Council—must comply with the County Health Code, Fire Code, and other local laws prohibiting obstruction of pedestrian access in the public right-of-way and in parks and beach areas. City officials—including Code Enforcement, the Police Department, and Fire Department—will be enforcing these requirements, with a particular focus on and around the Santa Monica Pier and Palisades Park.

What if I want to start vending in Santa Monica – what do I need to do?

For more information about how to vend in Santa Monica, please click here.

If you would like to provide input or feedback as the City develops a vending ordinance, we welcome you to submit your ideas and insights at  vending@smgov.net. 

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