Senator Lena Gonzalez Introduces Bill to Support California Street Food Vendors

February 10, 2022
Bill aims to modernize the California Retail Food Code to address the complex permit challenges faced by sidewalk food vendors
Sacramento, Calif. – On February 10, 2022 Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) introduced Senate Bill 972 to help support California’s street food vendors by removing barriers to accessing food vending permits. The bill would help reduce unpermitted vending, protect public health, and create a more equitable economy for women, low-income individuals and people of color who form a major part of the industry and contribute to the State’s economy as micro-businesses. 
“Today I am proud to announce the introduction of my bill SB 972 that will help support street food vendors,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Street food vendors are woven into the culturally diverse and culinary fabric of California. These workers, however, lack access to the permitting they need to be able to work and provide for their families. This is due to policies in the California Retail Food Code that make it difficult for them to enter local permitting systems. SB 972 will remove those barriers and at the same time uphold public health and safety standards to protect consumers. I am excited to move this legislation forward this year and look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure we provide a more just, accessible pathway to economic stability for California street food vendors.”  
“I am proud to support Senator Lena Gonzalez and her SB 972 that would modernize the California Retail Food Code so that sidewalk vendors are able to meet achievable, fair, and practical licensing, public health, and safety standards,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, a bill co-sponsor. “This measure will build on the ‘Safe Sidewalk Vending Act’ law that I authored in 2018, creating more opportunities to support these hard-working micro-business owners so that they can continue to provide for their families and be part of a just, fair, and inclusive economy as our state gets back on track during this pandemic.”
"Every day, thousands of street food vendors across California venture out to create jobs by feeding their communities,” said Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director, Inclusive Action for the City, on behalf of the California Street Vendors Campaign. “Despite the broad support many street food vendors enjoy from the public, too many lack the resources to pay for the expensive permits and equipment that the California  Retail Food Code requires. It is now time to make sure that our Retail Food Code acknowledges street vendors as members of our community and an important part of our local economies by creating a feasible pathway for them to join our public health system."
Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her family.
As the leader of the California Department of Insurance, Commissioner Lara oversees the largest insurance market in the United States and the fourth largest insurance market in the world. Since taking office in January 2019, he has acted to protect California consumers, fight climate change, and expand access to health care for all – while preserving a competitive insurance market. He authored the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (SB 946, Chapter 459, Statutes of 2018) as a member of the California State Senate.
The California Street Vendors Campaign is a coalition of street vendors, community-based organizations, elected officials and activists advocating for street vendor rights and their inclusion through the modernization of the California Retail Food Code. The steering committee is composed of Community Power Collective (CPC), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Inclusive Action for the City, Public Counsel, and the Western Center on Law & Poverty. While many cities have legalized vending, the hurdles to securing permits make it nearly impossible for food vendors to operate legally. Modernizing the Code would provide a safe and legal opportunity for food vending today and into the future.