San Jacinto Council sees unlicensed street vendor problems rising

0
3529

A proclamation honoring San Jacinto city and other code enforcement officers led to a lengthy off-the-agenda San Jacinto City Council discussion via teleconference Tuesday, Oct. 6, of the problems local restaurant owners are having with illegal street food vendors.

The result was a “call to action” made by Councilmember Alonso Ledezma for code enforcement or other health officials to crack down on the proliferation of the unlicensed street food vendors on city streets. Joining in the acknowledgement of the city’s street vendor problems was San Jacinto Mayor Andrew Kotyuk.

“They are told to move, but they just move to another location,” Ledezma said. “I am tired of getting calls from our restaurant owners about the vendors hurting their businesses. These vendors are out of control.”

Kotyuk said he was aware of the problem and has been speaking to Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington about what can be done to keep the illegal vendors off the street in the city. He said the first reaction from the county was that it was a “city problem.”

There was some discussion about recent surveys that show that as many as eight out of 10 restaurants may be forced to close because of the coronavirus and the owners need all the help they can get to keep their businesses open and illegal street vendors are not helping.

San Jacinto does have a means by which street vendors may apply for a license to have their sales on the streets that requires strict health and safety rules and how and where they are able to open their food vending booths; however, many are not applying for the licenses and permits, according to the staff report.

City manager Rob Johnson said the city’s code enforcement department and law enforcement officers are so busy handling other major code enforcement violations and major crimes they cannot quickly respond to complaints of illegal food and other street vendors.

“They call, they call, they call, they call,” Johnson said of the restaurant owners and residents about the street vendors. “We can’t do much about it.”

He said the staff will work on creating stronger street vendor regulations and bring it back to the council for their consideration.

“They ought to be fined $500 for a first violation, $1,000 for a second offense and $5,000 for everyone after that,” Ledezma suggested. “This has got to stop.”

City attorney Michael Maurer twice advised the council, once early in the meeting and again later in the meeting, to not discuss the matter further since it was not a part of the regular evening’s city council agenda and should only be discussed at a later meeting once it is placed on that agenda.

Kotyuk did request the matter be placed as a priority item on the future agendas. The council agreed to do so.

Land Use Plans update

In other business, the council received a lengthy report about updating the city’s General Plan and Land Use Map policy that has been amended 16 times since 1985. Providing the council with the updates was Travis Randel, community development director. He pointed out to the council that the population of the city has grown 100% in the last 10 years and plans need to be changed to meet the additional growth expected by 2040. Randel said work on the updated General Plan and Land Use policy began in November 2018, authorizing a $1.2 million General Plan Update. The program called “Envision San Jacinto” and known as General Plan 2040” is a multifaceted program designed to improve the quality of life for the citizens of San Jacinto by identifying and capitalizing on its strengths and opportunities, while taking proactive steps to address its weaknesses and possible threats.

General Plan 2040

“The General Plan 2040 program is also a key economic development tool by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of our land use inventory, while also providing opportunities for new creative approaches to planning and land development,” according to the report.

The Land Use Element is the central basis for the General Plan and identifies the type and location of future land uses within the city.

The “Envision San Jacinto” study focused on the major open land areas left in the city with the emphasis on existing land use patterns within the undeveloped or underdeveloped areas of the city including west of Sanderson Avenue, within the downtown area, along Ramona Expressway between State Street and Main Street, and within the Gateway Specific Plan.

In deciding on the possible changes since 2018, the city received significant input from the community in three public workshops and two pop-up workshops regarding the future development of the city. The key challenges noted by the residents included a lack of retail and commercial opportunities in the city, a need for general infrastructure maintenance and an increase in quality job centers. The report is predicting the city will add 10,000 new homes by 2040.

The council was shown in a series of slides on their monitors the current land uses and the proposed land uses in the city to meet the residential, commercial and industrial needs of the city in the next 20 years. The maps are made available in the city’s Meeting Portal in the Oct. 6 agenda packet at http://sanjacintoca.iqm2.com.

There are three land use areas added to the color codes in the new plan. They include VHDR, Very High Density Residential, Mixed Use and Downtown Village, addressing the new state housing mandates because of the reported housing shortage in California and the need for more and varied businesses and industry in the city and creating new jobs for newly arriving residents.

The entire report, already seen and approved by the San Jacinto Planning Commission, will be completed in spring 2021 when a series of public hearings will be called for citizens and developers to review the proposed land use changes in their neighborhoods and surrounding areas. The Envision San Jacinto General Plan Land Use update may be approved by the council in the summer of next year.

Wrapped utility box approved

The city council also approved a $5,000 contract with Econolite to complete the Art in Public Places – Cabinet Beautification Pilot Program that includes the wrapping of a traffic control box at the five-point intersection near downtown. Randel said that on the council’s request in an earlier meeting they sought bids for the project from five other area vendors. Two responded by choosing not to submit bids, and the three others did not respond to the bid request.

Randel reminded the council of the project. The utility box that will picture city history and information on the wrap is expected to cost $2,400, which includes the design, fabrication, installation and warranty. A total of $5,000 was requested to allow for any repairs that may be required during the life of the project.

The council suggested that another wrapped utility box might be installed at Ramona Boulevard and Tiger Lane outside of San Jacinto High School, if the first wins citizen approval. It was brought up that the staff might work with the school district to solicit design concepts from the staff and students of the school that embodies “Tiger Pride.” A concept, or group of concepts, would be selected by staff and further refined by a graphic designer. The final design would be presented to the city council for approval.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.