HUNTINGTON BEACH : Meeting to Focus on Vending Restrictions

From his truck--literally a grocery store on wheels--Gabino Aguilar sells vegetables, fruits, staples and such ethnic goods as chilies, pinto beans and tortillas.

On a recent late afternoon, he parked the truck along the curb on Keelson Lane in the Oakview neighborhood, and it was business as usual.

He had a steady stream of customers, all Latinos who live in the neighborhood, which is between Slater and Warner avenues near Beach Boulevard.

Youngsters bought sodas and candy, while women with children in tow purchased jalapeno peppers, onions, tomatoes and bottles of juice.

"Some people don't have a ride to go to the store, so they come and buy here," Aguilar said, explaining that convenience is one big reason why people buy from street vendors.

Alicia Padilla, who bought a package of tostada shells, said she and her family frequently buy goods sold from the trucks that peddle in her neighborhood.

"When you need something fast, they're right here and you can buy it," Padilla said.

These shops on wheels, which number around 15 and also include vendors selling prepared food such as tacos and burritos, have been commonplace in the primarily Latino neighborhood of Oakview in recent years.

But now there is growing concern among some residents that they don't fit in the residential area and cause littering, loitering, double-parking and noise.

As a result, the City Council tonight is expected to discuss ways to further regulate commercial mobile vending and may ask city staff to draft amendments to the city's current ordinances.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting is a continuation of the July 5 meeting at which the issue was also discussed.

Once confined largely to the Oakview area, vendors recently expanded into neighborhoods north of Warner Avenue, as well as on Amberleaf Circle, off Delaware and Main streets, and the area known as Utica-Florida, which is west of Beach Boulevard, said Mike Adams, city director of special projects.

Some residents in these areas, as well as Oakview, say mobile vending is harming their neighborhoods, Adams said. And the city staff has met with these folks to hear complaints and find solutions.

"Everybody agreed that if you have to allow them, then there needs to be further regulations," he said.

Barbara Kimbrough, a member of the Utica-Florida Task Force, a residents group, does not want the vendors encroaching on her neighborhood.

"We are concerned because we feel it devalues the property and we cannot see that it brings anything to our neighborhood," Kimbrough said. "When they come into the neighborhood, they not only have physical pollution, they play Mexican music and honk horns to let people know they're there."

Suggestions for increased regulation include: further limiting hours of operation--vending is now allowed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; restricting the number of vendors in each neighborhood, and requiring an annual review of permits to penalize violators.

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