San Diego changing regulations for sidewalk vendors

Balboa Park vendors
A trip to Balboa Park with views of the architecture + places to shop. | Photo via Michael Beausoleil + TheSDtoday

When strolling our beaches and parks, it’s easy to stop for a snack + shop — in fact, we’ve got options. San Diegans have noticed an uptick of vendors in public spaces, but changes are coming. This month, San Diego City Council voted to approve an ordinance increasing regulations and limiting the number of vendors in public spaces.

We want to browse the facts so you know what to expect + why it’s happening.

Pacific Beach vendors
Picking out some fun t-shirts while shopping along the Pacific Beach boardwalk. | Photo via @pacificbeachtshirts

🛍️ Why have the number of vendors increased?

Many sidewalk vendors opened up shop as a result of SB-946 — a bill enacted by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018 allowing the vendors to operate, but permitting cities + counties to regulate operations. 

↔️ Why are regulations changing?

While SB-946 allowed sidewalk vendors to operate, local authorities can impose regulations: 

  • To enforce health + safety standards like overcrowding.
  • If recreational spaces become difficult to use by the public.
  • When they “unreasonably interfere with the scenic and natural character” preventing the public’s ability to enjoy public spaces.

📍 Which spaces will be impacted?

The proposed regulations will impact the City of San Diego, but emphasize the areas with the most vendors. This includes Pacific, Ocean, Mission + La Jolla beaches, parks like Balboa + Old Town, and downtown areas like the Convention Center + Petco Park.

📋 What will change?

City Council has filled its cart with changes to strike a balance between permitting businesses’ endeavors + allowing uninterrupted use of public spaces. Some notable examples include:

  • Distance regulations to permit foot + vehicular traffic.
  • Entrepreneurial Zones,” designating spaces for vendors.
  • A ban on vendors as Mission Bay Park between Memorial + Labor Day.
  • Spacing between sidewalk vendors and stores, restaurants + outdoor dining.
  • Licensure for vendors — those selling food must register with the San Diego County Public Health Department.

🗓️ When will the ordinance go into effect?

Once Mayor Todd Gloria signs the regulations, changes are expected to be implemented on June 1, 2022.