SACRAMENTO, CA – Sidewalk vendors are a fixture in California’s communities and a part of vibrant food cultures. But outdated laws expose these entrepreneurs to harassment, criminal prosecution, and even deportation.
The Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, Senate Bill 946, prohibits making street vending a crime and allows local governments to regulate vendors if they create a permit process.
With Immigration and Customs Enforcement threatening to deport any undocumented immigrant, sidewalk vendors are more vulnerable than ever.
“Sidewalk vendors are a visible part of our communities and that makes them vulnerable to extortion, crime, prosecution, or even deportation under Trump’s indiscriminate regime,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “Many restaurant owners got their start as sidewalk vendors, and the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act protects the women, seniors and immigrant entrepreneurs who are an asset to California’s economy. Opportunity is not a crime.”
A recent survey of Los Angeles vendors found that 80% are women and many are seniors. Harassment or arrests of vendors strikes at families and at those on fixed incomes.
Last year ICE agents detained a sidewalk vendor and mother of four in Rancho Cucamonga after she was arrested for selling corn.
Sidewalk vendors use pushcarts, pedicarts, or other non-motorized vehicles on sidewalks and parks.
Sidewalk vendors have reported arrests and confiscation of property by local authorities. Undocumented immigrant sellers are particularly at risk.
Los Angeles is the latest California city to move toward permitting street vending. The Los Angeles City Council voted last year to end criminal penalties and is in the process of creating a permit system.
The Safe Sidewalk Vending Act not only protects vendors, it also allows cities to permit vending and collect reasonable fees from vendors to support health and safety inspections.