New California Senate bill is a win for street vendors – The State Hornet
A more accessible food vendor bill
Governor Gavin Newson signed Senate Bill 972 on Friday, September 23, making it easier for street vendors to obtain permits. The bill is a revision of the California Retail Food Code which has prevented some street vendors, a cultural staple in many areas, from obtaining permits to sell food.
The California Retail Food Code was written when the sale of food was banned statewide and specifically asked businesses to meet certain requirements, such as having a three-sink compartment.
For sidewalk vendors, this was inaccessible due to the size and weight limitations of their food carts.
SB 972 was introduced by Democratic Senator Lena A. Gonzalez in February 2022. According to González’s websitethe bill will support street vendors who have become an integral part of California’s culture and diversity.
The amendment is based on Senate Bill 946also known as the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, which legalized street vending in 2018, with the requirement that food vendors had to comply with Calibration code to obtain a sales permit.
Gonzalez has faced backlash from community members in areas where street vendors are often found. Randall Scott, executive director of Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District in San Francisco, voiced those fears in a CalMatters article published in August.
He wrote that the bill removes too many enforcement tools for public safety and that cases of public endangerment could increase if the bill is not adjusted.
Senator Maria Elena Durazo, co-author of SB 972, said the Cal code previously only applied to restaurants and food trucks. These rules were nearly impossible for small businesses like ice cream carts or fruit stands to follow. The new bill only removes those barriers and still meets public health and safety standards, according to Senator Durazo.
Sara Trujillo, an unregistered sophomore at Sac State, shared her experience with a local street vendor who frequents her apartment complex.
“I really like the paletero,” Trujillo said, “He talks to me and asks me how school is going. He’s really nice.
Dominic Chandler, health science specialist at Sac State, said he supports SB 972 because it’s often the only source of income these sellers can get.
“Especially immigrants who don’t have a work permit or something like that,” Chandler said. “It’s great for them to earn money for their families.”
Tatiana Juarez, an undeclared freshman at Sac State, said she recognizes that many salespeople face challenges, such as making enough money.
“It’s their job and their main source of income for their families,” Juarez said. “It’s really good that it’s easier for them to get their permits…they won’t feel like some random day they can take everything away from them.”
Silvia Perez is a local Sacramento street vendor who helps run a fruit cart. Perez said that in his home country, street vendors were allowed to all congregate in one neighborhood to do business. They were given a space to sell, and she said she would like to see something similar here.
“I think now [after the new bill]you feel more protected,” Perez said.
Street vendors have often been the target of attacks and harassment. A much talked about issue on social media as videos of abused street vendors go viral.
Perez said he heard stories of discrimination from his former boss and believes the bill will bring many benefits to street vendors.