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Jul 12, 2007 01:20 AM

Salinas Mobile Vendors Declare Victory!

Tuesday night the Salinas City Council adopted a new ordinance with certain operating restrictions on street vendors. Immediately after the meeting, I posted this quick message, .

Two provisions that would have effectively run the vendors out of town were stricken from the ordinance. The number of stationary vendor permits remains capped at 31 and will be available for re-issue whenever forfeited by the current holder and not reduced in number. This means that street vending can continue to be an incubator for budding entrepreneurs in the future and the number of vendors need not diminish. The ban in four years from vending on commercial and residential streets in the Alisal district and elsewhere in the city with only industrial zones and construction sites permitted was removed.

The new rules mainly address locational issues to reduce traffic hazards and congestion, hours of operation, new ID badges to counter illegal vendors, and provide for closer coordination between the county health department and the city in enforcement and the permit process. City staff said that they had analyzed the vendors spots on the street and most will be able to stay close to their current locations. They also emphasized that unlike the slant portrayed in the media, it was "never a fact to do away with street vending completely."

During the public comment period, Victor Mehia, the executive director of SUBA, expressed his concern about the "us vs. them" image of Salinas as a community divided. Whatever the decision of the council, he said it was time to put this behind and begin the period of reconciliation.

Speaking to Teresa Hernandez after the meeting, she said that the support from food lovers in the Bay Area, the probing and attention of the national media, and counsel David LeBeouf all came together to turn the tide.

To answer Carb Lover's question about vendors at the meeting, yes, there were many vendors in attendance. Wireless headsets were provided for simultaneous translation from English to Spanish. In the audience I recognized Digna and Guadalupe Hernandez of Mayra's Catering, Fernando Hernandez and his son of Tacos Acambaro, Rogelio Coyt who has a produce truck, Julio Valdez of tamale and hot dog fame, Jose Martinez of El Kiosko, Mr. and Mrs. Jaquez of Jaquez Fast Food (Teresa's parents), and Mona Fletes of Tacos Colima. Attending this meeting meant giving up a day's revenue for many of them. There were several others who I believe were there in support of the vendors. Of the 31 stationary vendors, 30 have contributed and signed-on to retain the attorney, which is a pretty remarkable level of participation.

Here are links to the articles in the two local newspapers. KQED also sent a reporter to the meeting and may have its own report.

"Salinas adopts rules for food vendors -Ordinance will become law in fall"
By SUNITA VIJAYAN, The Salinas Californian

"Mobile vendors claim victory - No phaseout, but Salinas caps permits"
By CLAUDIA MELÉNDEZ SALINAS, Monterey Herald Salinas Bureau

Previous discussion on this board -

SJ MERC Editorial:All food lovers should have choice of where they eat tacos -

Taco Truck Thugs - squashing the little guy by outlawing street food -

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  1. Bravo Melanie for helping to shine a light on this situation. I am sure that otherwise the decision would be different.

    That is to me some of what this site is about. People who are passionate about all types of wonderful food from the upscale to the taco truck and street vendor. In cases like this it is good to have the loud microphone of Chowhound/Chow as assistance to help keep us all eating deliciously.

    From the Monterey Herald article you link to ...

    "Mona Fletes has been working with her parents at Tacos Colima since she was 8. After hearing the final vote, she wiped a tear and turned around to other mobile vendor supporters and smiled.

    "I am very excited," she said. "I'm pleased with the decision. This is good for a lot of people that would have been run out of business in four years."

    1. Congrats Melanie. Great!


      1. Melanie--thanks for keeping the updates coming. I am not pleased to see that vendors must chose a time slot and stick to it; also no selling after 6 in the evening! What about the late-night shift workers, or folks like me rolling through town w/o time or budget for a sit-down meal? Why is the public's access being set by the city council? It just doesn't make sense.

        1 Reply
        1. re: toodie jane

          The rationale for regulating hours of operation is to reduce traffic congestion and hazards. However, please note that the newspaper article printed the wrong hours. Each vendor must choose one time slot and stick with it. Vendors can work less than the designated hours but not more. Produce vendors may operate between 6am and 8pm. Catering vehicles have a choice of 3am to 6pm or 3pm to 3am. So there will be dinner choices late into the night.

          I'll post more details soon. I've been very sick. Barely pulled myself together for Tuesday night's meeting, fortifying myself with a double dose of cough syrup and brought a bottle of water to keep from hacking through the hearing. Afterwards I collapsed and slept most of Wednesday and a good part of Thursday. I'm on the mend (due to some delicious escabeche de pavo for lunch).

        2. !Felicitaciones, bien hecho!

          1. so glad to read this! Melanie, you should be quite proud of the role you played in shining a light, as rw says....get better very soon so that you can post more details!