The city of Ceres will begin seizing food, flowers and other products being peddled on the street by vendors who fail to get a permit from City Hall.
The action, as directed last week by the Ceres City Council, is intended to get vendors to comply with the city’s laws on peddling.
The state recently passed legislation banning cities from outright banning sidewalk vending, but allows cities to require peddlers to obtain a permit. The Ceres Municipal Code was recently changed to create a process for vendors to be permitted.
Since May the city Code Enforcement team has been educating vendors on the permit requirement. However, as of last week, nobody has bothered to get a permit, said City Manager Tom Westbrook. He suggested the city might want to do what the county does in confiscating goods if a person is peddling without a permit.
“We believe that would probably get somebody’s attention,” said Westbrook.
Councilman Bret Durossette said it’s probably time to take drastic measures since none of the peddlers on the streets have bothered to get permits from the city.
“I think since everybody else has to have a permit, they have to have a permit,” said Durossette. “If they don’t then there has to be some action taken … just not a slap on the hand.”
Vice Mayor Linda Ryno said she calls Westbrook at least once a week about the same vendors in the same location “and I think they’ve even been ticketed and they still continue to come back.” She said it takes a lot of staff time to keep chasing the problem “when there’s a real easy fix – just get your permit like a restaurant or somebody else has to do.”
She supports the confiscation of food products.
Councilman Mike Kline said if kiosk businesses like the shaved ice business is asked to go through the permit process, so should itinerant street vendors.
Mayor Chris Vierra agreed.
“I feel very sorry for our brick-and-mortars that are there 365 days a year who have all the requirements and permitting there,” he said, mentioning how floral shops deal with a ton of competitors on holidays.
“If they go through the process that’s fine but I don’t think that they should be given a free pass while all of our other brick-and-mortars – who are paying taxes and are investing a lot of time and effort into making our city what it is – then I think at least if you’re going to be on a street corner, you’ve got to go through some of the same requirements.”
Ceres Police Captain Pat Crane asked where the confiscated product will be stored and Westbrook responded “in the dumpster” like the county does.
When Mayor Vierra argued in a warning first before confiscation, Ryno suggested that bosses are dumping off different people to peddle flowers on street corners and if a warning is given the word sellers will continue to be chased down.
“The only they’re going to stop is when their product gets taken from them,” said Ryno. “I think we’re done with warnings.”
Councilman Channce Condit said he favored implementing the same policy adopted by the county.
In other action, Westbrook made the council aware that during the municipal code update, the city failed to adopt language clarifying that outdoor marijuana cultivation is not allowed in residential zones. The code did include the prohibition of outdoor pot growing in commercial and industrial zones.
“What we’ve seen in the community is people growing it in their backyards, not within a greenhouse or any type of building,” said Westbrook. “That’s what we want to prohibit.”