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Law Aims to Keep Santa Ana's Street Vendors on the Move

October 19, 2005|Jennifer Delson | Times Staff Writer

After more than two years of debate, Santa Ana this week scrapped a plan to permit some street vendors to work at permanent locations on city streets rather than force them to move from place to place.

Also to the vendors' frustration, the City Council on Monday voted, 6 to 1, to require that all vendors change locations after 90 minutes.

"We don't agree with the decision making us move every 90 minutes," said Maria Gomez, owner of three trucks and president of the Santa Ana Vendors Assn., which represents 130 members who wanted the city to discourage out-of-town trucks from doing business in Santa Ana. "This city has not addressed the problems we have."

Many residents are frustrated with the trucks, which sell soda, candy, vegetables and household detergents, because there are thought to be as many as 300 on Santa Ana streets. Currently, once they park each day, they are not required to move in most locations.

Under the local law approved Monday, the trucks would be required to move at least 200 feet every 90 minutes to avoid a municipal code citation with a not-yet-determined fine. Repeat violations recorded by police or the city's code enforcement staff could lead to vendors losing their licenses, said city attorney Joseph Fletcher.

City officials say the new law is similar to laws in other cities. Council member Jose Solorio said Huntington Park, Ontario, Fountain Valley, Torrance, Riverside, Baldwin Park and Costa Mesa are among other cities that require vendors to move in as few as 10 minutes.

Solorio said a proposal to pave over grass parkways in 150 locations to make permanent parking spots was cut out of the ordinance because "creating permanent parking spots, possibly in front of people's homes, was not good policy." The plan had required the vendors to pay up to $2,000 for the permanent spots.

"We decided to keep it simple and make something everyone understands," Solorio said. "This will reduce the number of vendors on one street at any one particular time."

Resident Mary Bloom-Ramos wants the trucks to be regulated because she believes they could reduce property values.

She said she would have preferred to require mobile trucks to have a global positioning system that would easily allow the city to monitor them. Of the new ordinance, she said, "There is no way that this is enforceable. We don't have the staff to see that these trucks move."

Fletcher said he believes the ordinance will withstand legal challenge because it is similar to other cities' ordinances and provides ample time for vendors to conduct business.

The law goes into effect Dec. 7, but city officials will begin enforcing the ordinance in February after passing out fliers explaining the new law to vendors.

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