With Coastal Commission review still pending, it may be another summer of sidewalk vending on local coast

Vendors set up shop along the boardwalk at the foot of Newport Avenue at Abbott Street in Ocean Beach in 2019.
Vendors set up shop along the boardwalk at the foot of Newport Avenue at Abbott Street in Ocean Beach in 2019.
(File / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Though the city of San Diego has rolled out new regulations on sidewalk vending effective June 22, residents of Ocean Beach, Point Loma and other coastal areas will need to wait longer — probably through the summer — to see more than two dozen rules take effect for their parks and streets.

Many points in the city’s new 34-page ordinance cannot be enforced in the coastal zone until after the California Coastal Commission approves them.

However, health- and safety-related sections of the ordinance will apply without Coastal Commission approval. Penalties for violating health and safety rules — including selling a prohibited item such as alcohol or firearms — also will be in effect along with the rest of the city.

Facing pressure from immigrants rights groups and advocates for racial equity, San Diego slashed from $230 to $38 the annual permit fee that street vendors must pay under a new ordinance that takes effect in most of the city in mid-June.

Once the Coastal Commission reviews the proposal, the matter will go back to the City Council for adoption of any amendments per commission recommendations, according to Kathleen Ferrier, policy director for City Councilman Joe LaCava. Two council hearings will be required, one for discussion and one for a vote, and the regulations would go into effect 30 days after the second hearing.

The Coastal Commission review will center largely on where vendors can operate — a key issue for locals irked by the influx of vendors at beaches and shoreline parks.

The Coastal Commission has a meeting scheduled for June 8-10 in Del Mar, but the sidewalk vending ordinance is not on the agenda. The commission’s subsequent meetings will be July 13-15 and Aug. 10-12.

Here is a partial list of the regulations that need Coastal Commission approval before they can take effect in the coastal zone:

General regulations

  • Vending activities on residential blocks may occur only between 7 a.m. and sunset.
  • Vending activities on non-residential blocks may occur only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. or the hours of operation imposed on other businesses on the same block, whichever is least restrictive.
  • Only roaming sidewalk vendors may operate in residential areas.
  • No stationary sidewalk vendor is permitted on a sidewalk less than 6 feet wide.
  • Sidewalk vendors shall not display signs advertising any offsite business.
  • Sidewalk vendors may not use more than 5 square feet or 25 percent of the vending space, whichever is less, for items not directly related to vending operations.

Vending locations

No stationary sidewalk vendor shall vend and no roaming sidewalk vendor shall stop to make sales in the following locations:

  • The public right of way, or any area that blocks the safe flow of pedestrians or vehicles
  • Any public property that does not meet the definition of a sidewalk, including but not limited to any alley, beach, street, median or street end
  • Parking lots
  • Any slope greater than 5 percent or where signage indicates that wheels must be cramped to the curb
  • Within 18 inches from the edge of a curb
  • Within five feet in front of or 65 feet behind the sidewalk along a bus stop
  • Within 10 feet of any driveway, marked crosswalk or fire escape or emergency exit
  • Within 15 feet of any other sidewalk vendor; intersection; building entrance; loading zone, parking space or access ramp designed for those with disabilities; outdoor dining or patio area; public restroom; curb ramp; location with a valid encroachment permit displayed; or high-traffic bike and shared-use path
  • Within 25 feet of any beach access point or pier
  • Within 50 feet of any major transit stop
  • Within 500 feet of any permitted event or any school while children are coming or going, during a recess period or within 30 minutes before or after the school’s opening or closing

While the above rules cover both stationary and roaming sidewalk vendors, the following apply only to stationary vendors, pending Coastal Commission approval:

  • Vendors shall not vend within 50 feet of another stationary sidewalk vendor in any city-designated promenades. (In promenades defined as high-traffic sidewalks, vending is prohibited.)
  • Vendors shall not vend within five feet of any above-ground structure.
  • Vendors shall not vend within 15 feet of any fire hydrant or fire lane.

Vending at public parks, plazas and beaches

The following provisions are for beach areas, should the Coastal Commission approve:

  • Sidewalk vendors shall stop vending before the designated closing time of any beach area.
  • Vending is permitted between 8 a.m. and sunset in beach areas where there is no designated closing time.
  • Sidewalk vendors shall not vend within 50 feet of another sidewalk vendor.
  • Sidewalk vendors shall not vend within 25 feet of any decorative fountain, statue, monument, memorial or art installation.
  • The city can enact rules and regulations to prohibit vending in any space that would obstruct, damage or otherwise adversely affect the public’s use and enjoyment of natural resources and recreation opportunities or contribute to an undue concentration of commercial activity that unreasonably interferes with the scenic and natural character of a public park.
  • The city can reasonably limit the number of sidewalk vendors in certain parks by requiring vendors to obtain an additional park sales permit. With that requirement, it will be unlawful to vend in such parks without such a permit.
  • Vending is prohibited during the summer in shoreline parks, including in Ocean Beach.
  • Vending is prohibited in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
  • Sidewalk vendors shall not use amplified or non-amplified sound devices in conjunction with vending, such as speakers, microphones, public address systems, bells and chimes.

To read the full ordinance, go to


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