Fontana Passes Street/Sidewalk Vending Restriction Ordinance

At its October 10 meeting, the Fontana City Council gave unanimous passage to an ordinance giving city code enforcement officers or that division’s contracted consultants far wider latitude and authority in dealing with unlicensed street vendors.
To demonstrate it is serious about driving unlicensed street vendors out of the 43.07-square-mile city of 214,718 population, the city council augmented the new ordinance with a contract with a private company that will be paid roughly $100,000 a month for the next six months to cite the sidewalk vending offenders and seize their merchandise and means of doing business if they violate the ordinance a second time.
After years in which street vendors have encroached on public property within those areas of the city’s commercial areas, the city conducted a workshop on September 12, 2023 in which the council and community were briefed by Fontana code compliance inspectors on the difficulties that they and contracted staff are facing when dealing with non-permitted street vendors.
Large numbers of those conducting sidewalk business do not have licenses and city employees reported that they were “taking a proactive approach by providing education to street vendors on how to obtain a San Bernadino County health permit/City of Fontana business license,” according to a city staff report. Nevertheless, according to the report, “street vendors continue to operate illegally.” As a consequence, according to the staff report, “Fontana Code Compliance Inspectors and contracted staff are confiscating all perishable items, but the non-permitted street vendors are still returning to operate throughout the City of Fontana. This ordinance will grant authority to city staff to confiscate and impound all non-permitted street vendors’ equipment to further the city’s effort to mitigate health risks and maintain accessible pathways.”
According to the city, the ordinance will allow code enforcement officers to safeguard the Fontana community with more effective regulation of food and merchandise sales. The ordinance and the change in the city’s approach will, the city maintains, improve public safety by increasing operational efficiency, visibility, and availability and allow for the immediate correction of the problems the unlicensed vendors create.
The ordinance adds two separate sequences of sections to the city code giving code enforcement officers the legal grounds to clear out sidewalk obstructions and seize not just the goods being sold by unlicensed vendors, but their carts and any other appurtenances involved in their illicit salescraft.
The authority contained in the ordinance rests upon the authority granted municipalities by Senate Bill 946, including Government Code section 51038, which authorize a city to regulate sidewalk vending to help protect public health and safety.
Previously, the city had adopted Fontana Municipal Code chapter 15, article XVII, entitled “Sidewalk Vending” to regulate sidewalk vending within the city. The ordinance adopted on October 10 adds sections 1-14, relating to obstruction enforcement consequences and 15-829, pertaining to impoundment.
The ordinance states, “Any city official, including a code compliance officer or inspector, police officer, firefighter, fire prevention specialist, or examiner may impound a sidewalk vendor’s vending cart, equipment, food, utensils, goods, flowers, toys, furniture, or merchandise (collectively ‘items’) used in violation of this article pursuant to the provisions of Section 2080.10 of the California Civil Code, Section 114393 of the California Health and Safety Code, and/or any other applicable city, county, or state law for any of the following reasons: (1) Food displayed, offered, or made available for sale, including equipment or utensils used by a sidewalk vendor, without holding a valid and displayed health permit from the San Bernardino County Health Department in violation of county or state law. (2) Items reasonably appear to be unattended or abandoned on public or private property for more than thirty 30 consecutive minutes without moving from the exact spot it was located and reasonable attempts were made to locate the owner or responsible person(s) within the first fifty 50 feet of the items. (3) Items displayed, offered, or made available for sale by a sidewalk vendor who does not possess a valid applicable sidewalk vending permit and a city business license. (4) Items displayed, offered, or made available for sale by a sidewalk vendor who… refuses or fails to provide identification. (5) Operation in violation of this article and refusal or failure by a sidewalk vendor to remove items from public or private property within 30 consecutive minutes after being instructed to do so by a city official. (6) Items displayed, offered, or made available for sale by a sidewalk vendor who vends in a manner that blocks or obstructs the free movement of pedestrians on sidewalks and fails to maintain a minimum of forty-eight inches (48″) of accessible path of travel, without obstruction, along the sidewalk upon which the vendor is vending so as to enable persons to freely pass while walking, running, or using mobility assistance devices, and/or in violation of the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) and other disability access standards. (7) Items displayed, offered, or made available for sale in violation of any applicable federal, state, county, or city laws, ordinances, and regulations, including, but not limited to, illegal or counterfeit merchandise, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, smoke or vaping products, adult-oriented material, live animals, weapons, and/or pharmaceuticals. (8) Items creating an imminent and substantial danger or environmental hazard to the health, safety, or general welfare of the public or property at the location of the vending cart such as, but not limited to, discharge of oil, grease, or other slippery substances on the street or sidewalk without any effort to maintain best management practices; using unapproved portable cooking equipment, heating element, gas-fueled appliance, generator, or any open flame; during an urgent or emergency public safety event or incident; lack of a fire extinguisher; using any luminaire, flashing lights, or any other animated devices or sign; or using, operating, or permitting any radio, loudspeaker, or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound. (9) Items displayed, offered, or made available for sale by a sidewalk vendor who has, within a 24-month period, been issued three or more administrative citations for violations of this article. (10) Items impounded as evidence of a crime or booked as property after an arrest of any sidewalk vendor involving any city, county, state, or federal law or regulation excluding this article.”
The ordinance states that the city “may immediately conduct a forfeiture impoundment of items from a sidewalk vendor who has been found responsible for engaging in sidewalk vending activities in violation of this article two or more times within a 24-month period (herein identified as a repeat offender) after being contacted by a city official who issued a notice of violation. An aggrieved repeat offender may appeal a city forfeiture impoundment action.”
The ordinance confers upon the city “disposal authorization,” stating, “The city may immediately dispose of impounded items that are perishable and/or cannot be safely stored. The impoundment of any sidewalk vendor’s items, excluding any items that were immediately disposed of because they were perishable and/or could not be safely stored, may be held by the city for not less than 30, nor more than 60, calendars days from the date of impoundment.”
Upon passing the ordinance, the city council voted unanimously to approve a six-month $598,224 contract with 4Leaf Inc. for the provision of “additional contracted code compliance inspectors to address non-permitted street vendors.”
Fontana officials maintain that they are fed up with unlicensed street vendors who openly defy the law. In particular, city officials have said, they are particularly motivated to shut down vendors who are selling food from carts or vehicles which are unlicensed and in which unsanitary conditions proliferate.
The new ordinance carries with it the prospect that unlicensed food vending trucks that are cited more than a single time in any 24-hour period will be confiscated.
-Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply