Taco street vendors, paleteros – pushcart vendors who sell packaged food like ice cream – and food truck owners will soon have to follow new regulations and get permits if they want to keep selling in Placentia.

City council members voted unanimously at their Tuesday meeting to introduce a new law regulating food truck owners and street vendors in Placentia as officials across Orange County tighten the rules on these types of businesses.

Mayor Ward Smith said at the meeting that he spent the early part of his career as a police officer eating from food trucks, that these types of vendors service laborers on the go and said that larger street vendor operations are more prevalent in neighboring cities.

“But I’m glad to see it, because it’s not on the books, it’s been a long time coming,” he said about the ordinance. “We need to have the appropriate statutes and regulations.”

Smith said police or code enforcement officers should do spot checks on the street vendors to ensure compliance with the rules.

OC Cracks Down on Street Vending

A taco stand sets up on a public sidewalk in Santa Ana on Feb. 13, 2023. Credit: DEVON JAMES, Voice of OC

Officials in cities like Laguna Hills, Stanton and Orange this year have all taken steps to tighten rules on street vendors.

Over the summer, Orange City Council members also voted to regulate and permit food trucks, allowing them to only operate at certain times and places and implementing fines for anyone who breaks the rules.

[Read: Orange Expands Street Vendor Crackdown, Moves to Impound Equipment]

These sort of crackdowns kicked off across Orange County after the passing of two state laws aimed at decriminalizing street vending in California and limiting the rules cities can impose on such vendors as well as removing barriers for them to get permits.

Some officials say they are worried about public safety and that street vendors create unfair competition over traditional brick and mortar businesses since they don’t have to deal with the stringent permitting process, or have expensive overhead costs like leases.

Advocates argue that street vendors – often immigrants – are people trying to make a living, feed their families and benefit the local economy.

[Read: Are OC’s Street Vendors ‘Unfair Competition’ or Fuel for the Community?]

Street Vendor Rules in Placentia

The Placentia Water Tower located on W Chapman Ave. on April 12, 2023. Credit: ERIKA TAYLOR, Voice of OC.

Currently, vendors only need a business license to sell on the streets of Placentia.

The proposed ordinance, if adopted, would require vendors to also get a city permit, a state seller’s permit, limit what time of day they can sell as well as require vendors to comply with health and sanitation standards and much more.

Click here to view the proposed ordinance attached to the Nov. 7 agenda.

There is an exception in the proposed law for kids 16-years-old or younger selling lemonade as well as girl scouts selling cookies.

Penalties for violating the law include fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 as well as city seizures of pushcarts, equipment, food and other merchandise.

The proposed law would also create rules for food truck vendors also requiring a city permit with a background check, business license, state seller’s permit and other permits required by law.

It would regulate truck weight, hours of operation, location and much more.

A mural in Old Town Placentia on Sept. 16, 2022. Credit: ALLIE LEICHTER, Voice of OC

Councilman Chad Wanke pushed to limit hours operations more than what was initially proposed, arguing that it would be better for safety to have them close around the same time local brick and mortar businesses close.

“I would propose to the council that we limit it to as early as we can legally under state law,” he said. “The place is a ghost town at 9:30, let’s be real.”

The council ultimately agreed to limit the proposed hours of operation for street vendors to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Councilwoman Rhonda Shader raised concerns about how much all the permits and licenses were going to cost for vendors with pushcarts who she said likely live in the city.

“I don’t know how much those guys make, but this is really adding up and I just don’t know if that was the spirit of the California law. I think the spirit of the law was to allow an individual to have a business,” she said. 

“I would like to make it reasonable for these people to follow the law if we can.”

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.


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