California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Monday, September 17 that prohibits criminal penalties for sidewalk vending and treating vendors like other businesses in the state.
The Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (Senate Bill 946) — introduced by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) in February — allows municipalities to establish permit programs for vendors, and they may require sidewalk vendors to obtain a business license and abide by state tax laws, just like other businesses.
The governor’s signature comes after both the state Assembly and Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support. It was then given to Brown in late August for his consideration.
“With Senate Bill 946 we can start seeing sidewalk vendors for who they are – women and seniors, single parents, and micro-business owners taking that first step to starting their own business,” said Lara in a statement. “Governor Brown’s signature validates that thousands of sidewalk vendors are an important part of our economy, whose hard work supports their families and gives California its unique flavor.”
Lara introduced SB 946 in response to stories of arrests and harassment of vendors, such as the incident last year when ICE agents detained a sidewalk vendor and mother of four in Rancho Cucamonga after she was arrested for selling corn. An immigration judge ordered her release after community protests.
Vendors who were previously convicted under local anti-vending laws may petition the court for dismissal of the sentence.
A recent survey of Los Angeles vendors found that 80 percent are women and many are seniors. Earlier this year, the City of Los Angeles voted to abolish criminal penalties for vending and create a permit process.
SB 946 had support from more than 60 groups including the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign members East L.A. Community Corporation, Public Counsel, the L.A. Food Policy Council and Leadership for Urban Renewal Network.
“I feel very emotional with the news of Governor Brown signing SB 946,” said Caridad Vasquez, a Los Angeles sidewalk vendor and a leader of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign. “Now the thousands of vendors can come out of the shadows and contribute to our economy openly as the small businesses we are.”
With Brown’s signature, the law will become effective on January 1, 2019.