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Riverside Close to Passing Updated Food Vendor Ordinance

Fruit vendor standing with his card outside the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in Los Angeles.
Flickr Creative Commons
Fruit vendor standing with his cart outside the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in Los Angeles.

Riverside's City Council late on Tuesday evening made some final adjustments to the city's street food vendor ordinance and will be voting on it in an upcoming session.

If passed, the major addition to the ordinance would allow applicants to use documentation other than their social security number in their application, which would make the city compliant with the state law. Also included are restrictions to where food carts can be placed.

Elizabeth Ayala is a Riverside resident and spoke at the council meeting. She said that most vendors are immigrants or Latinx and that the ordinance was a path forward for the community.  She added, "But we need material gains, not just words. We need more economic opportunity, not just ceremonial resolutions."

Resident Marlene said she didn't oppose street vendors but opposed them popping up everywhere. She brought up a common opposing point concerning sanitation, saying, "They can't relax the rules for street vendors, and not relax it for everyone. If we start that, where will we end? And why is this fair to the consumer?"

Under the past and updated ordinance, vendors would still be required to have a Riverside County Health Permit.

Councilwomen Gaby Plascencia was one of the leading advocates for the new changes. She told me, "You know they're a part of our community, they're taxpayers, they own homes here, their children attend our schools, and why are they less deserving to feed their families than brick and Mordor restaurants?"

According to Gary Merk, Riverside’s Code Enforcement Manager, city staff will bring back a revised version of the ordinance at an upcoming meeting. The ordinance is expected to pass.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.