SAN DIEGO — The City of San Diego is planning to crack down on its art vendor ordinance, as some vendors have continued operating through an alleged “loophole.”
“Some vendors have found and exploited the lack of clarity in the definition of vending and are claiming First Amendment protection for their sale of goods,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria told FOX 5 on Sunday.
“We’re not talking about mom-and-pop vendors displaying art and handmade crafts, but vendors selling mass-produced products that cannot be stretched to fit the definition of free expression,” he continued.
Some vendors have expressed concern that their time and efforts spent to make their art may be hidden or overlooked through this. The city, however, assured that those vendors are protected through the first amendment, while selling goods that are political or religious in nature.
“It’s a bummer to see people exploiting it certainly,” local artist and vendor, Jason Kaplan, said. “I’ve talked to a handful of artists who are discouraged by it, but were just trying to stick it out so we can keep vending, hopefully people can see what’s the real art.”
“Doing this stuff is something that’s super personal to me and I put a lot of time into, so to be able to step outside and actually show it to the public and have them interact with me and come buy a piece if they want to,” he continued.
The mayor said the amendment to the ordinance will provide clarity to help enforcement. This would ideally in turn keep the permitted vending true to expression and local artists.
The city’s vendor ordinance has aimed to strike a balance between protecting local parks from overcrowding, health and safety concerns, and the best interests of entrepreneurs and local artists.
“Honestly its kind of nice to hear that the mayor is cracking down on things because its great to be out here as an artist,” Kaplan sad. “But it has been difficult. We have definitely run into a lot of people that aren’t vending their art — that are vending merch, or stuff that they have purchased.”
Other vendors, like Denise Severino, have seen park rangers vigorously enforcing the current ordinance and removing vendors that are not permitted to be there.
“It’s all about art,” added Severino, who sells her work in Balboa Park.
A moratorium on vending through the summer in coastal areas and at San Diego parks expired on Labor Day. Vendors permitted by the ordinance are allowed to return.
Currently, park rangers enforce the ordinance in San Diego parks, and San Diego Police Department enforces the ordinance in other areas including the Gaslamp Quarter.
The full ordinance can be read on the City of San Diego’s website.
Mayor Gloria said his office is working with Councilmember Jennifer Campbell to bring the changes for debate this fall, but no official timeline has been announced.