By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — The City Council adopted street vending regulations following a public hearing Aug. 22.
According to a staff report, the city’s Economic and Community Development Department proposed a 1,000-foot buffer around venues within the Inglewood Sports and Entertainment District, churches, schools, Centinela Hospital, Inglewood Park Cemetery and the water treatment plant adjacent to Rogers Park.
Code Enforcement Manager Jerry Tucker presented the staff report which asked the City Council to amend and/or repeal various municipal code sections regulating peddling, soliciting and sidewalk vendors and adding a new Article 13 “Sidewalk Vendor Program” to Chapter 8 of the Municipal Code to comply with changes in state law.
State laws decriminalized street vending in 2019 under Senate Bill 946 and in 2023 Senate Bill 972 modified the state’s retail food code to streamline public health permitting and licensing for sidewalk food vendors.
“Current enforcement tools used by the code enforcement division are administrative citations, parking citations, recovering abandoned carts and impounding vehicles,” Tucker said. “The biggest piece to this would be creating no-vending buffer zones around entertainment venues, schools and other sensitive uses [previously identified as the Inglewood Park Cemetery and hospitals].”
The department requested a 1,000-foot buffer zone, which ignored a legal opinion from the city attorney’s office on the subject.
City Attorney Ken Campos initially proposed a 500-foot buffer zone due to current lawsuits involving the city of Los Angeles.
“There’s approximately two to three other cities that are currently being sued or are in court for their boundary limits,” Campos said. “The one in the city of Los Angeles is at 500 feet and they are being challenged because of the state law.”
“The city of L.A. did no study, similarly to Inglewood having no study, as to the basis as to the restriction of 500 or 1,000 feet,” Campos said. “So, unless the city of L.A. is able to prove as to whether there are any health or safety violation issues, the courts are probably going to find in favor of the cart vendors.”
Mayor James Butts Jr. didn’t find that sufficient enough to stop the city from establishing its own guidelines.
“They can sue for 500 or 1,000 so what difference would that make?” asked Butts during a public hearing in June on the matter.
Tucker explained the difference between the two proposed zones.
The proposed 500-foot radius map would only benefit the Kia Forum as it would cover the entire property to the sidewalk. For SoFi Stadium the 500-foot radius would not extend far enough and would allow street vendors to operate in the stadium’s parking lots.
“For SoFi [Stadium] it would not take us to Prairie or Pincay with the 500-foot radius,” Tucker said. “For the Forum the footprint is sufficient enough to cover Manchester, Prairie, Kareem Court and Pincay.”
“With a 1,000-foot radius, SoFi would take in portions of Pincay, Prairie and would still be on property to the south and to the east as well,” Tucker added. “For the Forum, it would have a greater footprint into the residential community going three blocks to the west.”
During public comment, residents asserted the city’s proposal appears to be an outright ban on street vending despite state law authorizing the activity.
“The same basis you are using to impose this 1,000-feet perimeter was specifically addressed in the state law which is a de-facto ban against vending and as the city attorney noted the city of Los Angeles is facing lawsuits for this and all you’re doing, by passing this is inviting lawsuits, unnecessary lawsuits and its laughable that you’re using a state law that was meant to give vendors right to ban the activity,” resident Marvin McCoy said. “A member of this council flagrantly saying ‘who cares if its 500 or 1,000 feet’ because they will do that because inviting lawsuits against the city is standard code of practice because the mayor doesn’t have to pay for lawsuits, the taxpayers do.”
Councilman Eloy Morales Jr. said he isn’t a fan of allowing street vending because it impacts small businesses and makes it difficult for them to prosper.
“The state of California has imposed this on us so we’re restricting as much as we can to protect the businesses but also the neighborhoods,” Morales said.
Morales said he primarily was concerned with how enforcing the new rules would be handled.
“In order to address those concerns, we’ve expanded our hours of operations and now work seven days a week and in the event something happens after hours telephone calls will come to me and then I will point it back to staff in order to address and the enforcement practices that we’ve engaged in are simple warnings and advisements and seeing if we can get voluntary compliance and in those rare instances where folks refuse we will contact Inglewood Police Department to issue citations and make sure the issue is resolved.”
Councilwoman Dionne Faulk, who represents the area where SoFi Stadium is located, said safety is her primary concern as the street vendors block the public right of way.
“What happens is that the carts, because they’re on the sidewalk, attendees of these venues have to walk in the street which is not safe,” Faulk said.
Neither the city nor police department provided any data to corroborate the council members’ assertions that small businesses are impacted by street vendors and/or the unsafe conditions, with blocking the public right of way, has caused documented injuries to event attendees.
The street vendors are primarily visible during event days which occur after hours and during weekends and not during the week when small businesses are open which was corroborated by Mayor Butts when he asked Tucker about deployment of code enforcement to enforce the newly adopted regulations.
“We’re going to have peak deployment Friday, Saturday and Sundays for event days?” asked Butts to which Tucker responded “yes.”
The ordinance will go into effect in 45 days.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.