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Old Spanish Days Street Vendors
updated: Jul 09, 2014, 3:30 PM

By Heidi Downing

With Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days quickly approaching some governing entity should be making plans to control the unpermitted street vendors that flock to our city with increasing volume. There are many reasons why these vendors need to be handled better.

First and foremost, they are a public health and safety hazard. Many have open flames propped up under a cookie sheet with hot dogs or sausage for sale. They are not permitted and therefore there are no sanitary checkpoints on the food they serve. There are also no regulations on how they cook the food or position themselves on the sidewalks.

Additionally, their presence denigrates Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days. It is true that our Fiesta is meant to extend a Bienvenida to all including locals, tourists and strangers. This part of the tradition could be kept intact with a very civilized permitting process.

Growing up in Santa Barbara I remember strolling down the streets during Fiesta and buying handmade confetti-filled cascarones from young girls in their pretty dresses. Now it is hard to even walk down the street with all the vendors sprawled across the sidewalks. The other issue with the confetti eggs is that these vendors now fill them with Mylar confetti, which is does not bio-degrade like the tissue confetti. The result is huge amounts of Mylar washed into the ocean.

Lastly, it is unfair to the vendors that pay for space and go through the permit process in De la Guerra Plaza. Most of these vendors are non-profits. The money that goes to the unauthorized street vendors is taking away from our local non-profits.

Does regulating these vendors fall under the jurisdiction of the County Health Department, the Santa Barbara Police, or the Old Spanish Days Organization?


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