THOUSAND OAKS : Council Weighs Vendor License, Restrictions

The Thousand Oaks City Council Tuesday will consider cracking down on street vendors and door-to-door solicitors.

The council will vote on an ordinance requiring all peddlers and canvassers to obtain business licenses and display them conspicuously. They would have to stop working at 5 p.m. during the winter and at 7 during daylight-saving time.

"We don't need ice cream trucks going through residential neighborhoods after dark," Councilman Frank Schillo said, explaining the daylight-only rule.

Because the city cannot legally ban hawkers from residential zones, the new code would simply limit their operation to public streets and sidewalks. To set up shop in a parking lot or apartment complex, vendors would have to obtain the property owner's written consent.

The City Council will also debate charging vendors rent. As a model, City Atty. Mark Sellers cited a city in Washington state that charges vendors $45 a month to operate from public streets, plus a $60 one-time processing fee.

That prospect infuriated hot-dog vendor John Smiley, who said that paying rent for a patch of sidewalk would be ridiculous. "Clearly, they don't know how much money businesses aren't making," he said, squirting mustard onto a hot dog.

The new ordinance would also require all solicitors to wear city-issued identification cards, including a photo, fingerprint and summary of criminal convictions. It would exempt people selling newspapers or magazines, as well as representatives of nonprofit organizations.

While endorsing the ordinance in concept, Councilwoman Elois Zeanah said the regulations were not strict enough.

"My concern is protecting our residential areas from unwanted intrusion and noise," Zeanah said. Permitting vendors to operate, even under restricted conditions, would contradict "the kind of ambience we want to encourage in our city."

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