Santa Monica, CA

New Task Force Removing Unpermitted Vendors around Pier

Los Angeles Bay Incidents

Due to the recent increase of unpermitted vendors on and around the Santa Monica pier, a task force was recently created in removing and citing unpermitted vendors even sometimes confiscating food from them. This has been a growing problem over the years but it has been an even bigger problem recently as vendors return to the pier from the covid lockdown. The task force consists of police, fire, and county health officers. The police department has code enforcement and regular officers that work alongside two fire investigators to enforce open flame laws on the pier as well as the county health officers who enforce the food that the vendors are selling as well as sanitation of the carts that the vendors are selling the food from. With them being unpermitted and if they're in violation of health codes then that could be a huge fine which is a huge price to pay. Since June 1st, 2021 the police department, the fire department, and the Los Angeles County Health Department have tried to get unpermitted vendors off and out of the pier and surrounding areas. They started by giving them verbal warnings and escorting them off the pier, then it went to barricading and hiring private security at every entrance to keep them out. It was then gradually ramped up to citations, confiscation of food, and even sometimes arresting the vendors. This is what it has come to because the vendors simply just don't want to get a permit or to follow the laws that are in place to keep the pier safe due to its history.

The task force was created on Friday, January 7th and they are tasked with removing and keeping the vendors out. The task force also works alongside the private security company that the city hired in assisting them in keeping out the vendors. The vendors with permits with the city, come in early in the morning usually when it's not yet crowded or busy, and set up for the day and they'll stay there till the pier closes which is at 10:00 pm. The task force starts at 10:30 am and is at the pier till 10:00 pm. The unpermitted vendors coordinate with one another on a time to try and rush onto the pier to try and sell their food. The task force then has to drive down onto the pier on ATVs and remove these vendors off the pier and possibly cite them.

The task force was created in the wake of the super bowl coming to Los Angeles with fans coming, it would be a tourist destination for people coming from other states to come to see the Super Bowl at nearby Sofi Stadium in Inglewood. Which would mean that they might want to come to the pier. This is to ensure that the tourists that come have an enjoyable time at the pier as well as it makes the pier less congested and makes it look cleaner without these unpermitted vendors on the pier.

Street performers and vendors at the pier said that it's not far that they are paying a fee for the permits and that the unpermitted vendors just get to be on the pier for free and it also takes away business from these other vendors and street performers who paid a fee for their permits.

On Friday, January 28 a protest was held at Santa Monica city hall to rally against the confiscation and arresting of these unpermitted food vendors. This protest went on for only an hour with mutiple advocates and speakers who spoke for what they're requesting on behalf of the vendors that are being affected by the task force. They are asking for the law to be reversed to protect the vendors from being cited or arrested as well as to stop the consification of their food.

We have requested a comment from the Santa Monica Police Department about how they work alongside the Fire department and the county health department in the task force. They have at this time given no comment.

The Santa Monica Fire Department directed us to contact the city about the work being done on the pier.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health stated the following in a request for comment that we sent,

At the request of the City of Santa Monica, Public Health has accompanied the Santa Monica Fire and Police Departments 12 times since June 1, 2021 to address unpermitted food vending at the Santa Monica Pier. During these joint investigations, Public Health evaluated each vendor’s permit status, and if invalid or unpermitted, issued a warning, and disposed of potentially hazardous food. Public Health supports food vending that is conducted in a safe and legal manner. Public Health recognizes that there are economic barriers to entry into the mobile food market and is currently working with the County’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) and a non-profit organization on a pilot program with cart designers and manufacturers to develop plans and construct model food carts that comply with California law. The goal of this effort is to design low-cost food vending carts, thereby reducing a barrier to entry. In addition, the County is investigating the feasibility of a loan program for those who wish to purchase food carts that meet necessary food safety requirements. Public Health will review and evaluate each of the report’s recommendations

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