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Sidewalk Vending: A Test Case For the Courts And Nuisance Abatement Law

With so many challenges facing cities for enforcement with sidewalk vending, one city recently turned to the courts for help.  In Santa Clarita v. Tacos Jacky, in the LA Sup Ct., the city is suing certain sidewalk vendors under a nuisance theory for violations of their vending laws and having unsanitary food conditions.  Recently, SB 946 changed the landscape for local enforcement agencies, proscribing means for regulating sidewalk vending with key limitations (like no criminal enforcement) and key processes (like having permits for such vending, allowing issuance of administrative citations).

What cities have resoundingly reported is that such enforcement permitted under SB 946 tends to be ineffectual since most vendors do not apply to obtain the necessary permits (and vend anyways) and ignore the citations (and often do not give their names, addresses, or other contact information for cites to be issued in the first place).  Some cities are taking a wholistic approach, educating the community, working together with vendors, and seeing some success.  But sometimes there remains those vendors set on simply vending and not complying with the health and safety laws intended to protect consumers (and vendors themselves).

This Tacos Jacky suit is novel and one we are monitoring closely.  If successful, the city might be able to obtain an injunction against the vendors from their unpermitted/unsafe operations, in other words, a court order prohibiting them from the unlawful acts.  This is the first kind of suit against vendors we’ve seen, so we are keenly aware and tracking how the court responds, how the vendors respond, and how it interrelates with SB 946’s enforcement limitations.

Summary of Facts 

Below is a brief summary of the facts provided in the Tacos Jacky initiating papers:

The city alleges that Tacos Jacky has operating since at least 2019, without a valid peddler’s license, public health permit and sidewalk vending permit. It further alleges that Tacos Jacky has dangerous food safety conditions because of unsafe food storage, unsafe temperature, unmarked food items, cross-contamination, unrefrigerated meats, and partially cooked and unmarked meats. Since 2019, the city believes that there have been 218 site inspections of Tacos Jacky and on 74 of those inspections, the city observed the Tacos Jacky operating with dangerous food safety conditions. After observing these dangerous food and safety conditions, the city ordered Tacos Jacky to cease their operations until they obtained the proper permits pursuant to Santa Clarita Municipal Code. Even after the city’s numerous enforcement efforts, Tacos Jacky persisted and continued operating on the city’s public right-of-way. The city seeks a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunction against Taco’s Jacky to stop sidewalk vending to protect the city’s health and safety.

We’ll be tracking this case and providing updates through our newsletter and other means.  So please stay tuned.  Contact Partner Valerie Escalante Troesh should you need legal assistance with complying with SB 946, learning more about enforcement options and tools; our firm works with cities throughout the state to ensure compliance with the law for sidewalk vending, protecting and balancing the various rights and interests at stake in line with the law.

About the Author

  • Civica Law

    With over 75 collective years of experience, Civica Law has helped cities and counties abate thousands of dangerous and substandard properties, improve housing conditions, and effectively deal with a wide range of quality-of-life issues, from homeless encampments to cannabis, drug, and gang dens to illegal gambling (or tap-tap) facilities, illegal business operations, human trafficking and massage, land use, and zoning, and virtually every other conceivable quality of life and safety issue a public agency may face.

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