Santa Monica City Council Approves Sidewalk Vending Program

Program creates a legal pathway to vending that promotes public safety while expanding economic opportunity

April 10, 2019

Santa Monica City Council Approves Sidewalk Vending Program

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — At its meeting on Tuesday, April 9, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously adopted an emergency ordinance and approved a comprehensive sidewalk vending program to create a legal pathway for vending in spaces that were formerly restricted. This aligns with a new state law - SB 946, the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act -which decriminalized street vending in public spaces. The new program prioritizes public health and safety and expands economic opportunity for those who vend lawfully with appropriate permits.

“Santa Monica’s approach to sidewalk vending strikes an important balance that we hope will create an inclusive, safe, and successful business environment for vendors and customers, ensure public safety, and allow our public spaces to be enjoyed by all,” said Mayor Gleam Davis.

The program will launch immediately through an emergency ordinance designed to roll out a program before the busy summer season. The Santa Monica Municipal Code will be updated with new definitions of sidewalk- and vehicle-based vending, and staff will soon issue administrative regulations to provide additional details on requirements and restrictions. 

Key aspects of the program, include:

  • Requiring sidewalk vendors to obtain a business license and sidewalk vendor permit. Vendors who meet application criteria will be issued a business license certificate and sidewalk vendor permit decal. 

  • Requiring compliance with county and state regulations, including an L.A. County Health Permit for food vendors and California Sellers Permit. 

  • Limiting vending activities in highly-trafficked areas that impose a risk to the public’s safety. These restricted areas include the Santa Monica Pier, where all vending will be prohibited except the City’s existing license vendor cart program; as well as the Third Street Promenade and Transit Mall; Santa Monica State Beach (includes the 1700 block of Ocean Front Walk); and Palisades Park (within 500 feet of the Ocean Avenue entrance to the Pier bridge), where stationary vending will be prohibited. 

  • Monitoring implementation of the program and making adjustments to the administrative regulations to maintain public safety as conditions warrant.

Comprehensive public education and outreach in English and Spanish has already begun, and will ramp up in the coming months before the busy summer season. Information on how to apply for a business license and vendor permit, relevant City ordinances and administrative regulations, and FAQs are available on the City’s website. A series of bilingual application workshops will be held to assist vendors through the application process. 

“We’re committed to working alongside vending entrepreneurs to ensure they get licensed and permitted with the City and county,” said Deputy City Manager and Policy Director Anuj Gupta. “We’ll also encourage and facilitate lawful vending in desirable and permissible locations that are economically attractive, such as the Colorado Esplanade.”

In compliance with SB 946, enforcement against sidewalk vendors will be administrative in nature. Council directed staff to return with an administrative fine schedule. A dedicated Code Enforcement detail will be reassigned to the Pier and beach to promote compliance in these high impact areas.

Permit applications for sidewalk vending in Santa Monica will be available beginning in May 2019.

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