Wednesday, February 14, 2007

FMJ - Days 323 & 324

February 14: NO FINDS! I have thrown myself into a pitched battle since the Feb. 12, 2007 with the Simi Valley City Council over their passage of a new Municiple Code banning all "footed" street vendors on public property or in the public right of way. They have trampled on the 1st and 4th amendments and I intend to stop them!

Here's letter to the editor of the Ventura County Star which was published in today's paper. It can be found at this link:

February 14, 2007 - Vendor law ‘un-American’

I attended the Simi Valley City Council vote on the new street vending restrictions. I stood up and voiced my opposition to the proposed statute. Also, I e-mailed Mayor Paul Miller. The City Council heard our objections and, with little debate, moved quickly to pass the street vending ordinance in unison.

As a business person — currently not operating — I find this decision appalling, as it restricts individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness as defined in the U.S. Constitution.

It seems that this council and mayor are governing by the "Not In My Back Yard" philosophy of public administration. How can they move to shut down the microbusinessman — the guy risking his precious savings to shoestring a business venture? I find this un-American to its core. When the pioneers moved from the East to settle the vast open empty lands of the western United States during the early 18th century, who do you think brought in the goods? Peddlers on wagons, that's who! A vote against the street peddler is a vote against the heritage of the West!

I find this move by the council to be offensive, restrictive and anti-competitive. Just who is this council protecting? It certainly isn't the consumer or our neighbors who might desire to open a microbusiness by getting their feet wet on the streets!

The council stated publicly that they're 100 percent pro-business — seems that's only as long as you’re rich! Forget trying to lift yourself up by your bootstraps in Simi Valley! It not welcome in the back yard!

— Andy Bulles, Simi Valley

Here's some other relevant news about this situation:

Simi votes to ban street vendors

Officials say ordinance will keep city clean, while critics say it goes too far

By Karin Grennan,
February 14, 2007

This is the last Valentine's Day that people will be able to buy flowers from street vendors in Simi Valley.

The City Council voted 4-0 to approve an ordinance banning sidewalk peddlers from selling flowers, food or any other goods despite protests from several residents Monday night. Councilwoman Barbra Williamson was absent.

The statute, which will go into effect March 15, also prohibits mobile vendors from parking in one spot for more than 10 minutes before having to move at least 500 feet. A provision lets property owners allow vendors on their land after a temporary use permit has been issued by the city.

Seven people at the meeting urged the council not to adopt the ordinance. They said enforcing current licensing requirements would keep out any illegal operations, while the new rules would prohibit law-abiding people from starting and running small businesses.

"I think that anybody that doesn't have a license shouldn't be selling," said Norman Tuers, who operates the Hot Dog Hot Rod for special events at Home Depot. "If they have full licenses and they comply with everything you people ask, then they're just people trying to subsidize their income and make a living."

Don Rubenstein said the vendor ordinance is the latest instance of the city bullying people in recent months. He said other actions included kicking homeless people out of Arroyo Simi and making it illegal to post signs and run a medical marijuana dispensary.

" ‘The Not-in-Simi Valley,' ‘Not-in-My-City' attitude truly scares me,'' Rubenstein said. "Not everyone has the money to open a storefront. Chasing them away is just being a bully."

Council members countered that the ordinance will make the city a better place. The statute claims that sidewalk peddling results in littering, trespassing and traffic hazards.

"It has nothing to do with oppressing the poor. It has everything to do with proper planning," Councilman Steven Sojka said.

Steven Lane said the 10-minute limit would put his hot dog stand and other mobile vendors out of business and threatened to sue if the council approved the new rules. Another speaker, Andrew Bulles, vowed to help fund the lawsuit.

Councilman Glen Becerra questioned the city's staff about the possibility of lawsuits resulting from the ordinance and asked whether extending the time limit for mobile vendors would make the city less susceptible.

"I think we will be sued regardless," City Attorney David Hirsch said.

"I very much support this law," Becerra said. "I just want to make sure we can defend it as well as possible."


Simi Valley forcing street vendors out

Critics say plan would oust law-abiding sellers

By Anna Bakalis,
February 11, 2007

Steven Lane has a health department sticker saying his hot dog business is up to code. A city license and tax certificate have been issued. He's even had his fingerprints taken.

All his permits to operate a mobile hot dog stand are in order.

But unless he can find a private property owner who will let him occupy a small space, he's out of luck to operate in his hometown of Simi Valley.

The city plans to ban all street vendors and sidewalk peddling — that means no flowers, no food and no goods of any kind.

Included are mobile vendors, which will have a 10-minute time limit to stay in one place before having to move at least 500 feet.

This new ordinance is meant to send a message that "peddlers" are not welcome, said city officials.

That includes Lane, who spent $2,000 in city and county fees to bring his hot dog business into compliance so he could move his business from Ventura to the city where he lives. One month after the proposed city rule is passed, Lane's permits will be null and void.

The Simi Valley City Council is set to vote Monday night on the ordinance. If approved, it will go into effect 31 days later.

"There are so many illegitimate vendors in Simi Valley," Lane said. "I see them every day. And I've tried to do everything by the book."

Lane could operate under a provision that says property owners may allow vendors on their property after a temporary use permit has been issued. But first, Lane would have to find a willing property owner.

In the past five months, vendors have been increasing their presence in the city while shopkeepers have been crying foul, saying street sales are taking away business by offering cheaper products to consumers who otherwise would shop indoors.

According to the city, peddling also encourages littering and trespassing on private property and could increase risk of personal injury and vehicle accidents. The ordinance says vendors invade personal privacy when they are parked for a long time in front of a person's home or business.

Council members said it is a quality-of-life issue.

"The city of Simi Valley has evolved greatly over the last 10 years," said Councilman Glen Becerra. "We're not the way we used to be, and the law needs to reflect the city we've become."

It is Becerra's hope that Lane "will go to an adjacent community that has a more lenient peddler law."

But the reach of the Simi Valley ordinance — offering no chance to operate with a permit or designate a spot where vendors can go to set up shop, however temporarily — doesn't sit well with one local specialist in urban politics.

"This seems like a really broad ordinance," said Jose Marichal, an assistant professor of political science at California Lutheran University.

"On the one hand, all cities feel this pressure to maximize sales revenues, so you can understand it," he said. "On the other, they're saying, ‘These people matter more than these people.' "

He said Simi Valley should find a "least intrusive remedy" to try to satisfy all sides involved.

"An outright ban is not the least intrusive remedy," Marichal said. "This doesn't seem like it would pass constitutional muster."

Other cities address peddling but rarely ban it, some officials say. Usually a permit is an option.

Oxnard has long had an issue with vendors operating illegally, and it has policies to address them, said Dirk Voss, code compliance manager for the city.

"It's definitely a public nuisance," Voss said. "They come from out of town, mostly."

In Oxnard, peddling is illegal if workers don't have the proper permits or if their permits have expired. And permits are not issued for corn or fruit carts, Voss said.

Similar to Simi Valley, Oxnard vendors and peddlers can be seen mostly on the weekends and on holidays. He said they sell mainly items such as fruit, pirated CDs and corn.

And then there are flower peddlers, who become more numerous on weekends and holidays, especially Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Mexican Mother's Day, Voss said.

"I think for the most part, people are aware of what they are buying," Voss said. "For a lot of people, it's a convenience factor."

Simi Valley officials could not provide an estimate of how many peddlers or vendors set up on any given weekend.

Flower peddlers are plentiful on weekends and holidays, said Jeanette Rohal, owner of Simi Valley Florist on Los Angeles Avenue. She said some shoppers might think twice before buying a product that is sold illegally in the city.

"I've seen lines of people waiting on corners on Valentine's Day," Rohal said, adding that on any given weekend day, driving along Los Angeles Avenue she can see at least five flower vendors along the strip.

She said her flower shop has been around for 40 years and is well established. She and other flower shop owners interviewed said they don't feel threatened because vendors offer a lower-quality product.

"I didn't like it, but I didn't feel there was anything I could do about it," Rohal said.

If you go

The Simi Valley City Council is scheduled to take a final vote on the peddling ordinance Monday. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 2929 Tapo Canyon Road.

Today's Stats
Day's Finds: $.00
Bottles & Cans Collected: 54
Running Stats
This month: $1.32
2007 Finds: $28.29
Since FMJ Blog Inception: $212.26 (March 28, 2006)
Total Found for FMJ Fund: $672.67 (since 1-1-2000)
Number of Bottles and Cans Collected: 217 for the month.
Bottles & Cans Return Fund: $701.44

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I noticed that in your tennis photo you mention eating first and tennis last. Ha-Ha-Ha from your younger brother Terry