SAN DIEGO — Last year, a new local ordinance went into effect prohibiting street vendors from operating in the Gaslamp Quarter. However, some frustrated business owners say it hasn’t deterred it.
Despite “no vending” signs posted at every corner in the area, Michael Trimble, executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association, said some food vendors don’t care.
“Those signs mean nothing,” Trimble said. “They basically look at the police roll they’re cart down the street and sale on that corner.”
The ordinance, which bars street vendors from high-traffic areas without a permit, went into effect in the area last June.
From November to May, Trimble said vendors virtually disappeared from the Gaslamp. Recently, however, some have started to reappear at night, testing the limits of enforcement.
Police officers enforcing the regulation typically leave the area around 5 p.m., but street vendors that have reappeared show up about five hours later at 10 p.m.
Sara Arjman, a manager of several restaurants in the area, says the street vendors’ resurgence is impacting businesses.
“Because they are illegal, they have no license, no health permit and it just makes it very difficult for businesses who are paying their taxes and doing their part to stay in business,” said Arjman. “One of the restaurants I work at is $30,000 rent per month, and to be represented with hot dog cart in front of your restaurant or establishment is a disgrace.”
Trimble and Arjman say these vendors sometimes leave trash behind and at times get aggressive. They’re now calling on city leaders to step up and help.
“Enforcement needs to come from the city and the mayor, no action has been taken,” said Arjman.
“If we don’t keep up the enforcement what good is this ordinance? Just a piece of paper,” said Trimble.