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Starting In 2019, Street Vending (Selling Food And Goods On Sidewalks) Will No Longer Be A Crime In California

Okabe & Haushalter Nov 24, 2018 Criminal Defense

The day thousands of street vendors across California have been waiting for for years will finally come on January 1, 2019. Outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown has prepared a New Year’s Eve present for sidewalk vendors selling food and other goods in California: starting January 1, 2019, street vending will no longer be a crime in California.

Starting next year, thousands of sidewalk vendors in Los Angeles, San Francisco and all across California will be able to operate legally. Governor Brown signed the so-called “Safe Sidewalk Vending Act” (Senate Bill 946) into law, decriminalizing street vending in the state.

Street vending is no longer a crime in California

Although it is not the first time California lawmakers are attempting to legitimize street vendors in California, experts and lawmakers are confident that this time, the new sidewalk vending law contains fewer flaws and can benefit thousands of sidewalk vendors deprived of an opportunity to operate legally in the state.

“This is a major victory not only for all the street vendors in California, but also the entire state,” says our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Okabe &Haushalter. “Those street vendors add to our state’s unique flair, and, by allowing them to operate legally, they can become invaluable contributors to local economies. So by decriminalizing street vending, we are finally moving in the right direction.”

Arrests and mayhem prior to the new street vending law

Before the new law was signed by California governor, the selling of foods and other goods on sidewalks and in parks in California was considered a crime. There have been numerous reports of non-violent vendors getting arrested and thrown into jail for street vending, which triggered a furious response from advocacy groups.

On top of that, since many illegal immigrants are trying to earn a living by selling foods and other goods on sidewalks in California, inspections and arrests of street vendors have resulted in many deportations of illegal immigrants in California over the past few years.

But with the “Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (SB 946),” cities and counties across California will be able to develop permit programs for vendors and set limits on the criminal prosecution of street vendors in California.

How street vendors will be able to operate legally in California starting 2019

“The new street vending law will prevent prosecutors in California from bringing criminal charges against someone who sells food or other goods on sidewalks,” says our experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. “Moreover, street vendors who have previously received a citation for selling food or goods on sidewalks or in parks in California will be able to clear their criminal record.”

Besides preventing street vendors in California from facing criminal penalties for selling food and goods on the streets, the new street vending law has also established a series of rules that must be followed by those authorized to issue street vendor licenses.

These rules include but are not limited to:

  • Los Angeles and other cities in California are not permitted to ban vending in parks
  • California cities do not have the right to determine the location where street vendors will be allowed to operate unless there is a health, safety, or welfare issue that requires otherwise
  • Street vendors will no longer be required to ask businesses operating nearby for permission to operate, and
  • California cities will not be allowed to ban or regulate street vendors unless they have a valid licensing system.

In other words, starting from January 1, 2019, street vendors all across California will be required to follow the same laws and regulations as other businesses in the state and will no longer be criminally prosecuted for doing business on sidewalks and in parks.

Following the same laws and regulations as other businesses means obtaining a valid business license, complying with state tax law and health and safety regulations (if the vendor is selling meat or fresh fruit). Violating the law will bear the same legal consequences as for other businesses. In the event of any violations, authorities will be able to fine offenders as well as cancel their business license.

Are you being criminally prosecuted for selling food or other goods on sidewalks or in parks in California? Seek a free consultation from our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Okabe & Haushalter. Call our offices at 310-430-7799 today.