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Santa Ana, OC health officials shut down more than 100 sidewalk food vendors – Orange County Register

Tacos of all kinds. Erotes covered in spices. Tortas dripping sauce.

Unlicensed street vendors selling such Mexican antojito (or a little craving) are increasingly popping up in Santa Ana, setting up shop on sidewalks without proper refrigeration, running water, or other safety standards requirements.

Following complaints from some of the communities, Santa Ana and Orange County Health Department officials, accompanied by police, closed more than 100 sidewalk stalls over the course of six weeks ending Dec. 16.

Santa Ana officials said in a press release issued Tuesday night that the vendor sells food “not fit for human consumption” and operates without proper health permits.

Mayor Valerie Amedzqua said, “Enjoying meals from street vendors has become commonplace, but we cannot allow unsafe food conditions to endanger public health.” I applaud the efforts of county officials.”

Former mayor Vicente Sarmiento said many of the vendors were not local “family” entrepreneurs, but rather employees of large corporations, mostly from Los Angeles County, and sent a team to visit Santa Ana and Orange Counties. It has been opened to the sidewalks in other places.

The recent crackdown was applauded by many residents on the Santa Ana neighborhood’s Facebook page. Some on the page defended the right of people to sell their goods freely, but most complained that impromptu street vendors were causing problems for the community.

Santa Ana resident Victor Vazquez was among those who applauded the city’s removal of unauthorized stalls.

“It’s very annoying,” Vazquez said in an interview Wednesday. “They pick up a lot of trash, but a lot of stuff is left behind.”

This could include the fat from cooked meat, or urination due to lack of access to toilets, he said.

“They use the same knife to cut the raw meat and then the octopus meat,” Vazquez said.

Sidewalk taco stands also affect nearby restaurants and food trucks that have licenses to operate.

“There’s too much right now. It’s out of control,” said one food truck operator, who requested anonymity because the topic is controversial in the city.

Another taco restaurant manager said her business has been severely impacted by sidewalk pop-ups.

“We are all entitled to a livelihood, but this has affected us,” she said in Spanish. they don’t.

Jose Rodriguez, a licensed street food vendor on Fourth Avenue for about 29 years, said the topic of street vendors can be controversial in Santa Ana.

“People need to make a living, but we all need to follow the rules,” he said.

Street selling was decriminalized when the California Legislature passed the Safe Sidewalk Selling Act in 2018. This industry has mostly to do with immigration.

In September, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 972. This makes it easier for some street vendors to obtain local health permits. Among other things, the new law states that consideration must be given to the ability to pay first offense fines. The bill, introduced by Senator Lena A. Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, aims to further decriminalize street vending and modernize California’s retail food code. This law he will come into force in January.

Meanwhile, Santa Ana and Orange County health officials said they will continue to send inspectors. Encouraged to look for health permits displayed.