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It Will Soon Be Easier For Sidewalk Vendors To Operate Legally In California

Jae C. Hong / AP Photo

People wait to cross the street in front of a fruit cart Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in Los Angeles.

Jae C. Hong / AP Photo

California will soon limit the kinds of rules and punishments local governments can impose on sidewalk vendors.

A law going into effect in January will allow local governments to design permit programs for vendors and limits when they can be criminally prosecuted. It pertains to anyone selling food or other merchandise from a pushcart, stand or “non-motorized conveyance.”

Cities and counties will be able to set health and safety guidelines for food vendors.

Sacramento City College student Emilia Castulo earns extra income as a street vendor. On Sundays she and her mother, Maria Lopez, sell corn snacks and sliced mangos from a food cart outside one of two churches in downtown Sacramento.

Castulo says local law enforcement took their cart away in April of 2017 while they were selling snacks outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on T Street in Sacramento.

"They came out of nowhere. They...just took everything, they didn't actually give us a warning,” Castulo said. “We didn’t know what to do or what to say.”

Other vendors at that location who were selling hot dogs and ice cream also had their carts and coolers confiscated, she said.

"Before the law was passed [there were] a lot of requirements we could not meet to make the permits," Castulo said.

Castulo and Lopez say each week they make a few hundred dollars selling snacks from their cart.

Going forward, Castulo and her mother say they plan to work with the city of Sacramento as it crafts its new regulations for street vendors.

Passage of the law prompted Los Angeles to design its own permitting program for street vendors, but many other California cities have yet to craft their own regulations.

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