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Mid-City CAN Blog

Group pushes to change street-vending laws

Break the law or feed your family?

For many residents of City Heights, selling illegally on the streets is their only option, said Adriana Huerta, community health educator at Employee Rights Center.

"For many reasons this is a very strong part of the economy of City Heights," Huerta said. "Many families are sustained by this type of income."

The permits for street vending can cost about $5,000 and are very restrictive, according to Huerta.

She used the example of Jose Linos, a City Heights resident and street vendor she works with, as an example.

"It is pretty impossible for him to get a permit because it is very costly money-wise, and they ask for information that he doesn't have, like a social" security number, she said.

Linos is supporting his wife and 9-month-old baby by selling burritos that his wife prepares. He does it in streets and parking lots out of an ice chest in the trunk of his car. He has done this for about two years, since he lost his job when his employer started using E-Verify to check employees' work status.

"My main fear is getting stopped by the police," he said in Spanish.

If that happens, Linos said, not having a permit could lead his case to get referred to ICE and possible deportation.

Employee Rights Center has been surveying street vendors like Linos in City Heights. In 2013, it surveyed 23 and, in 2014, it surveyed 47.

Huerta said that because so many street vendors don't have the proper permits, they put themselves at risk.

Fear pushes them "to be in the dark, going through alleys, not be on well-[lit] streets," she said. "It also puts them at risk of being assaulted."

For Employee Rights Center the ideal situation would be a more realistic permit policy.

The City of San Diego does not even permit push carts right now, she said. And those permits it does have forbid going on main streets like Fairmount and University Avenues.

"The ideal thing would be to eliminate permit process," she said. "They have to make the standards make less expensive."

Employee Rights Center found many City Heights street vendors during the past two years. Photos courtesy Employee Rights Center
Employee Rights Center found many City Heights street vendors during the past two years. Photos courtesy Employee Rights Center

 

Break the law or feed your family?

 

For many residents of City Heights, selling illegally on the streets is their only option, said Adriana Huerta, community health educator at Employee Rights Center.

 

“For many reasons this is a very strong part of the economy of City Heights,” Huerta said. “Many families are sustained by this type of income.”

 

The permits for street vending can cost about $5,000 and are very restrictive, according to Huerta.

 

She used the example of Jose Linos, a City Heights resident and street vendor she works with, as an example.

 

“It is pretty impossible for him to get a permit because it is very costly money-wise, and they ask for information that he doesn’t have, like a social” security number, she said.

 

Linos is supporting his wife and 9-month-old baby by selling burritos that his wife prepares. He does it in streets and parking lots out of an ice chest in the trunk of his car. He has done this for about two years, since he lost his job when his employer started using E-Verify to check employees’ work status.

 

“My main fear is getting stopped by the police,” he said in Spanish.

 

If that happens, Linos said, not having a permit could lead his case to get referred to ICE and possible deportation.

 

Employee Rights Center has been surveying street vendors like Linos in City Heights. In 2013, it surveyed 23 and, in 2014, it surveyed 47.

 

Huerta said that because so many street vendors don’t have the proper permits, they put themselves at risk.

 

Fear pushes them “to be in the dark, going through alleys, not be on well-[lit] streets,” she said. “It also puts them at risk of being assaulted.”

 

For Employee Rights Center the ideal situation would be a more realistic permit policy.

 

The City of San Diego does not even permit push carts right now, she said. And those permits it does have forbid going on main streets like Fairmount and University Avenues.

 

“The ideal thing would be to eliminate permit process,” she said. “They have to make the standards make less expensive.”

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