SAN DIEGO — After ongoing complaints from local restaurant owners and street vendors, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced the city will start cracking down on illegal sidewalk vending.
Frustrated food vendors and restaurant owners say they’re fed up with all the out-of-town street vendors operating illegally in the Gaslamp Quarter and downtown areas.
During a news conference Friday, they called on the city to do something about the surge of sidewalk food vendors who come in from Los Angeles and Tijuana, set up their carts without permits and end up cutting into their profits.
“We need help, we’re seeking help,” said Mareuos Sitto, owner of Doner Mediterranean Grill.
Last year, the City of San Diego passed a street vending ordinance, giving the city power to cite unlicensed street vendors and enforce “no vending zones.”
But that’s been largely ignored by the hundreds of street vendors who come to town, typically at night, Thursday through Sunday.
On top of that, there’s growing animosity between the illegal vendors and the legal vendors and restaurants, with reports of intimidation and violence.
“Lately it’s became worse. We get harassed, we can’t talk to them. If we tell them to stay away from our businesses, like 15 or 30 feet away, they harass us, they wanna fight us,” Sitto said.
But that may soon change.
“Enforcement by the city is going to be increased significantly in the very near future. I mean to the point where I think this will curb the illegal behavior by these vendors,” said Michael Trimble, Executive Director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association.
Trimble gathered with other business groups to meet with Mayor Gloria and discuss a strategy moving forward.
“By the end of the month, I think we should see a significant change in how both the Ballpark District and the Gaslamp Quarter look,” Trimble said.
Mayor Gloria released the following statement:
“We will not allow the brazen disregard of our City’s Sidewalk Vending Ordinance. As part of today’s meeting, I shared our plan of action for increased enforcement of the regulations, which will now include immediate impoundment of illegal food vendors’ equipment. Further, in partnership with Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, we are advancing amendments to the Sidewalk Vending Ordinance that will provide clarity around enforcement in order to address illegal vending in our beach and bay communities.”