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New law will allow street vendors to obtain permits to legally work in California

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  • Will bring thousands of micro-entrepreneurs from low-income communities into the formal economy

Thousands of street vendors who sell food in the state of California will be able to enter the formal economy through a new law that authorizes them to operate legally, and thus end the fear of harassment by the police and health departments.

The new law will take effect on January 1, 2023.

SB 972 by Long Beach Democratic Senator Lena Gonzalez, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, modernizes the California Food Retail Code to protect the health and safety of customers and vendors.

“This is a monumental victory for thousands of micro-entrepreneurs and families in California,” said Senator González.

“With the enactment of SB 972, mobile food vendors can finally make a living in peace and pursue their American dream, and we can all continue to enjoy the iconic street foods we love.”

She added that she is extremely proud of and grateful to the tireless and dedicated group of supporters, including grassroots organizations and vendors themselves, who sacrificed time away from their families and made long overnight trips to Capitol Hill to demonstrate and make their voices heard so that this legislation could become a reality.

Mobile food vendors are cultural and culinary icons throughout California, and have fought for years to adjust state requirements.

The changes brought about by the new law will mean lower permitting and equipment costs for the people who have been serving California communities for more than a century and who have laid the culinary foundations in our cities and around the world.

Loni Robinson, leader of the SB 972 movement, owner of Kalypso Sweet Ice and a member of the Black Women Vendors Collective at Leimert Park in Los Angeles, said “SB 972 will serve as a clear and concise path to obtaining the proper permits for vendors like me”.

And she pointed out that the signing of this bill shows us that working class and low-income communities have support to escape financial traps and be able to prosper.

Many organizations supported the lobbying and passage of SB 972 through the California Street Vendors Campaign, including Community Power Collective (CPC) and Inclusive Action for the City (IAC).

Carla De Paz, director of organizational strategy for the Community Power Collective, said this victory will change the way local health departments work with vendors, and give them a real opportunity to establish business.

“Most importantly, it completely decriminalizes street food vending.”

Inclusive Action for the City Director Rudy Espinoza added that the fight over SB 972 has been a vendor-led movement from the start.

“This is an incredible win for all the vendors who have spent time making phone calls or telling their stories over the past few months, and it will be vital in helping these important members of our community become members of the formal economy in California.”

SB 972 will be implemented through county health departments and is expected to be fully online by 2024.

In addition to making it easier for street vendors to access permits, commissary space, and equipment that were previously very difficult to obtain, SB 972 is expected to transform local economies and integrate mobile food vendors into the public health system.

In 2018, former senator and now California insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara signed into law SB 946, which authorized street vending on California sidewalks, but left in place some barriers in the code that made it impossible for food vendors may obtain permits. That’s why it was necessary for Senator González to introduce SB 972 to clear the way for those who sell street food; so that by working with a permit, they can in the future be able to aspire to having an established business.


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