Tempers flare over ordinance that cracks down on unlicensed street vendors in Fontana

Marc Cota-Robles Image
Friday, October 27, 2023
New street vendor rules in Fontana draw community anger
An ordinance cracking down on unlicensed street vendors in Fontana is drawing community anger.

FONTANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Police held back protesters outside the home of Fontana's mayor Tuesday night as tempers flared over a new ordinance in the city that opponents say criminalizes the work of street vendors.

The ordinance aims to crack down on unlicensed street vendors by allowing the city to seize equipment for up to 60 days, and if necessary, charge vendors with misdemeanors.

Some vendors believe the city is trying to kick them out by spending nearly $600,000 to enforce the new rules.

"Look at the community response. We stand firmly here to say that this is not what we want our taxes to go toward," one woman commented during the Fontana City Council meeting.

"If we need permits, allow us to get the permits," one person who is against the ordinance told Eyewitness News. "Help us out that way... Don't make it clear that you just don't want food vendors here because food vendors are going to be here to stay."

The city told Eyewitness News that permits from the health department are available, and once obtained, must be displayed. Officials say their enforcement all comes down to health and safety standards, and making sure legally permitted businesses stay in business.

"We are trying to work with everyone," Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren said Wednesday. "We have to make sure that everybody complies with the standards set up for doing business in our community."

At least two men were detained at the protest outside Warren's home. Footage from the scene showed police holding weapons while forming a skirmish line as some protesters confronted them.

"Those people don't live here, because if they lived here they would not have behaved in that manner," she said.

Fontana has been discussing the enforcement effort for some time. The city initially passed an ordinance to strengthen its code enforcement in January of 2022.