On the agenda: Richmond to consider new sidewalk vendor ordinance

On the agenda: Richmond to consider new sidewalk vendor ordinance
A roadside kitchen serves up food on 24th Street & Barrett Avenue on December 1, 2023. Photo/ Soren Hemmila

The Richmond City Council will consider a new ordinance to regulate sidewalk vending over health concerns brought on by an influx of vendors at the Tuesday meeting. The proposal will establish a permit system and create a vendor plaza program to ensure compliance with state law.

Residents and the 23rd Street Merchants Association have raised concerns about the increase of sidewalk vendors operating without proper health permits, blocking sidewalks, and creating increased litter.

According to a report, city staff have been working with stakeholders to obtain input on the proposed Mobile Vendor Plaza Program and sidewalk vending ordinance.

According to an agenda report by Lina Velasco, Director of Community Development, the ordinance would establish permit requirements, provide reasonable time, place, and manner regulations on sidewalk vending, and ensure compliance with state laws.

“This program will provide opportunities for sidewalk vendors to continue their businesses in a regulated manner in exchange for agreements not to illegally vend in other locations within the City in direct conflict with the proposed ordinance,” Velasco wrote.

Advocating for the 23rd Street Merchants Association, Oscar Garcia said local businesses are dealing with issues surrounding smoke shops, unlicensed food vendors, and unsafe driving along the 23rd Street corridor.

“We continue to be frustrated that the city council continues to ignore the needs of Richmond residents and businesses on 23rd Street,” Garcia said at a recent council meeting.

The ordinance comes in response to the state’s Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, or SB 946, which decriminalized sidewalk vending and provided guidelines for local regulations.

SB 946 limits local jurisdictions’ enforcement mechanisms. Cities can no longer criminally prosecute sidewalk vending via criminal infractions or misdemeanors. Violations of local vending regulations can only be via civil fines.

The law applies to persons who sell food or merchandise from a pushcart, stand, display, pedal-driven cart, wagon, showcase, rack, or other nonmotorized conveyance or one person upon a public sidewalk or other pedestrian path.

Richmond sidewalk vendors selling food will be required to obtain a Mobile Food Facility Permit issued by the Contra Costa County Department of Environmental Health.

If a complaint is received that a sidewalk food vendor is violating provisions of the California Health and Safety Code, a Contra Costa County Department of Environmental Health Inspector will investigate and, if the violation is found, will prepare a notice of violation, according to the report.

City staff held workshops and meetings to develop the proposed ordinance. The Public Works Engineering Department surveyed sidewalks to ensure ADA compliance and meet city objectives.

Plaza de Vendedores

The city will also implement a Mobile Vendor Plaza Program to promote and support local vendors. The program will provide legal vending opportunities at three proposed locations: Marina Bay Farmers Market, Civic Center Farmers Market, and Downtown Richmond.

The Richmond City Council allocated $100,000 to support the Mobile Vendor Plaza Program as part of the upcoming budget. This initiative ensures vendors operate within the legal framework while promoting economic sustainability for low-income vendors.

“This program would also provide an opportunity to organize and support vendors in obtaining the proper permits,” staff wrote.

The ‘Vendor Plaza’ would be a location with bathrooms, light, a water sanitizing station, adequate space for vendors’ equipment, covered tents or canopies for food safety, and seating for patrons.

The vendors would be given a special quarterly permit, similar to the ones held by farmers market vendors, allowing them to prepare their food on-site for sale.

Staff will also consider a new location for vendors to offer more options, encourage community gatherings, and support small businesses.

Also on the Richmond City Council agenda

The Tuesday meeting agenda includes the report from Raftelis Financial Consultants on their workforce analysis, which has been continued repeatedly.

On the agenda: Richmond facing staffing challenges, needs dozens of new employees, says report
A workforce analysis by Raftelis Financial Consultants to be presented at the May 28 Richmond City Council meeting recommends filling vacancies and adding 74 new positions, including a dozen more police officers, to meet current service level expectations for all of the city’s existing programs and services for $12.

$20 billion affordable housing bond

A presentation from the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority and the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development on a proposed $20 billion Affordable Housing Bond for November 2024.

Richmond Arts District

A 10-minute presentation from consulting service applicants for establishing an Arts District, with a contract approval for developing a strategic plan.

Staff says an Arts District is a demarcated urban area, usually on the periphery of a city center, intended to create and attract a critical mass of art-related economic development-related activities.

Arts Districts have been built in areas somewhat removed from the city’s central business districts and have large open green spaces between buildings. Some successful Arts Districts are financially supported with residential fees, state Arts Council grants for nationally certified Arts Districts, and art capacity building grants.

A new direction for Taste of Richmond

A presentation from the Economic Development Commission on the new direction for the 2024 Taste of Richmond event, along with a request for a $10,000 appropriation to support the event. 

Taste of Richmond event showcases local flavor
The 4th annual Taste of Richmond offered a sampling of Richmond’s top restaurants, caterers, craft beer, and wine producers and came with plenty of smooth music to get you moving on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Eventgoers had difficult choices to make with fare from Baltic Kiss, Sailing Goat Restaurant, Snapper

Click to become a Grandview Supporter here, or make a one-time donation here. Grandview is an independent, journalist-run publication exclusively covering Richmond, CA. Every cent we make funds reporting from Richmond's neighborhoods. Copyright © 2024 Grandview Independent, all rights reserved.Advocating for the 23rd Street Merchants Association, Oscar Garcia

Read more