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Big Fee Hike for Pushcarts Due Oct. 15 : Street sales: Santa Ana vendors will have to pay an annual permit fee increase of about $230, resulting in a total of $800 per cart, and about $600 for each additional cart.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pushcart vendors wanting to do business on Santa Ana streets face hefty fee increases under a new ordinance scheduled to take effect in mid-October, a city official said Wednesday.

The new fees would effectively increase a vendor’s annual permit costs by about $230--raising the total to $800. The cost for each additional pushcart would total about $600, according to David Hermance, Santa Ana community preservation coordinator.

“I do not think they (vendors) are real happy about the increase in fees,” Hermance said. “But the alternative is not to be in business at all.”

The additional costs are part of a compromise reached last spring between city officials--who were being pressured by neighborhood activists to ban the pushcarts--and the vendors who depend on their sales to earn a living.

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Al Amezcua, an attorney representing the Santa Ana Street Vendors Assn., declined comment, referring calls to group leaders. However, they were unavailable for comment.

In order to stay in business, street merchants selling hot dogs, pastries, fruit or other items from pushcarts agreed last spring to tighter controls that included established hours of operation, uniformed operators and a ban on clanging bells.

Vendors also agreed to limit the number of pushcarts to 222, even though 276 were licensed and at least 200 more were operating illegally, according to city staff estimates.

Under the new law, permits can be revoked if vendors violate three or more requirements, and first-time offenders will be fined up to $125, depending on the offense.

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The enforcement program will be paid for through two basic fee increases: a $100 owners’ permit fee to be charged by the city’s Planning and Building Safety Department, and an increase in the business license tax from $119 to $250 per pushcart. Under the old system, owners with a large number of carts could pay a flat business license tax of $238, plus $42 for each pushcart.

Other fees charged by the city, including a background check of vendors by the Police Department, remain unchanged, Hermance said.

The $800 fee also includes health permits required by the county.

“They are looking at quite a bit more money than they have had to fork out before,” Hermance said. But the result, he added, will be a well-monitored program agreed to by those operating legally and citizens who initially favored an outright ban of the pushcarts.

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Because the proposals were hotly debated when first taken to the City Council, Hermance said the staff has attempted to be sensitive to the concerns of the vendors and has notified them of the proposed changes before enforcement begins on Oct. 15.

Bilingual flyers have been distributed throughout the city during the past two weeks, and vendors will be invited to meetings to receive updates on the program and on the new fees, Hermance said.

If vendors decide the fee increases are too costly and drop out of the program, Hermance said, new positions will be created for the vendors who did not qualify before the April 1, 1990, cutoff date.


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