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Mission Beach leaders file complaint over city’s lack of street vendor enforcement

Park-goers enjoy the afternoon at Belmont Park.
Park-goers enjoy the afternoon at Belmont Park.
(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Two community panels say city is ignoring 1987 ballot measure banning retail uses near Belmont Park.

Frustrated by the high volume of street vendors in Mission Beach, neighborhood leaders there filed a complaint Monday with the California Coastal Commission seeking help with the problem.

The complaint, filed jointly by the Mission Beach Town Council and the Mission Beach Precise Planning Board, says a ballot measure approved by city voters in 1987 bans street vendors from Belmont Park and nearby areas.

The measure, Proposition G, was approved by 67 percent of voters and rejected by 33 percent, the complaint says. The measure limited retail uses in that part of central Mission Beach to The Plunge building, the roller coaster and related uses.

The measure says no retail or commercial activity can happen in grass, picnic, public parking or recreational areas. Those are the areas where the vendors have been operating since the state loosened street vendor laws three years ago.

“We believe that the city of San Diego has violated the California Coastal Act and the city’s municipal code for the last several years by allowing street vending, which is an obvious retail use, to take over Mission Beach Park,” the two groups say in their joint complaint.

Mission Beach Park covers Belmont Park and some adjacent areas.

The complaint comes less than a week after San Diego began enforcing a crackdown on street vendors that aims to reduce chaos and restore the look and feel of many popular areas that have been flooded with vendors.

Weak enforcement, delayed implementation along coast worry merchants, neighborhood leaders

But city officials have decided to delay enforcement in the coastal zone — essentially all areas west of Interstate 5 — until the state Coastal Commission weighs in.

That decision has prompted coastal leaders to worry that coastal areas will be flooded with even more vendors fleeing the tougher restrictions they now face in inland areas.

The Mission Beach leaders have requested a response form the Coastal Commission by Friday.

City officials characterize San Diego’s new street vendor law as the right balance between fostering vendors as a new class of entrepreneurs and preventing them from damaging the character of parks, beach areas and business districts.

Critics continue to say the city’s new vendor law is too punitive and aggressive, stressing that it bans vendors from most high-traffic and profitable areas. They also say it has racist overtones because most vendors are immigrants of color.


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