Traditional businesses hurt by roadside sellers, deputies to step up code enforcement.
The city of Santa Clarita announced Friday that local flower shops lose a tremendous amount of sales each holiday to the vendors on San Fernando Road and other main thoroughfares, and local florists have asked their City and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department to remove illegal street vendors from the City and protect the local businesses that add to the local economy.
The City and Sheriff’s Department are aggressively responding to this request through a publicity campaign warning the community about illegal vending practices and spearheading an enforcement operation that will result in the issuance of citations for violations of the City’s street sales ordinance.
“We take our local business community and their needs very seriously,” explained Mayor Bob Kellar. “We have directed the Sheriff’s Department to enforce our City’s ordinance. Additionally, the City will field five Code Enforcement Officers and three Deputy Sheriffs on Valentine’s Day and the days prior to warn street vendors and issue citations to illegal vendors,” he added.
Local vendors are required by City Ordinance to possess a valid street vending permit, and the person identified on the permit must be present to sell any merchandise. Additionally, these sales cannot impede the public right-of-way in a manner that would prohibit the free movement of our residents while walking the sidewalks or streets.
Street vending, sometimes called peddling, was first regulated in the City of Santa Clarita in 1994 as a method to regulate the proliferation of street vendors. Since then, an increase of merchandise sold on the sides of roadways and sidewalks has been seen throughout the community.
As a result, local shops have asked the City for assistance with illegal street vendors. This problem intensifies around the holidays. In the past, Valentine’s Day has seen virtual tented storefronts erected with lighting, power generators and large signage. From these tents, transient vendors sell gifts, flowers, and candy – frequently of lesser quality and at similar pricing to local stores. What local shoppers use as an excuse for the convenience of location or access creates traffic problems as cars stop in roadways or park on street shoulders to make their purchases.
Another significant problem is that these street vendors hurt the local economy, as sales are grabbed by outside agents and do not support those stores who remain a constant and vigil partner in the local community.
“I believe the City’s motto is something along the lines of ‘Shop Santa Clarita and Shop Local’,” explained Henrietta Norris, owner of Bloomie’s Florist. “I personally believe in this motto and I spend my money in the City, as we all reap the rewards of this practice. The City gains absolutely nothing from what I believe to be illegal vending that occurs,” she added.
“We frequently receive calls for service and take action for illegal vendors in all areas of Santa Clarita,” explained Anthony La Berge, Police Chief for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “I see this as an important ‘quality of life’ issue, where there are some very real concerns over traffic congestion and permit violations,” added LaBerge. The Sheriff’s Department and City Code Enforcement Officers will be concentrating on locations throughout the city for vendors, ensuring that each has a valid solicitor permit, State Resale License, and has the legal permission to sell from private property.
“Some shops are set up on vacant lands and the owners are unaware of these vendors and have not given any permission for these street sales to occur on their property,” explained David Peterson of the Code Enforcement office. “Our Officers will be also checking to make sure that the use permits issued for the business location specify the items being sold at the location. In essence, a gas station will not be permitted to set up a tent and sell teddy bears if their permit specifies that they are limited to gasoline sales,” explained Peterson.
The City is currently reviewing their permitting process and ordinances as they apply to street vendors and door to door sales, in an effort to address the growing needs of the local community.