Impacts of Unlicensed Street Vending in Fontana
On January 25, 2022, the Fontana City Council enacted an ordinance with the primary goal of safeguarding public health, safety, and welfare. This response was driven by the specific risks associated with unlicensed sidewalk vending, including concerns related to public health, traffic, pedestrian safety, mobility, and possible unsanitary food preparation conditions.
In response to the City Council's directive, our Code Compliance department undertook an extensive campaign aimed at educating street vendors about compliance and permitting opportunities. This initiative involved deploying compliance teams, working overtime two nights per week for over six months, to disseminate information clearly and concisely, delivered in both English and Spanish.
The primary objective was to engage with every vendor in the city on multiple occasions, meticulously recording each contact to ensure comprehensive coverage. Only after a minimum of four direct interactions, during which educational materials were shared and warnings about non-compliance were issued, did the Code Compliance teams begin the enforcement measure of confiscating perishable goods in the interest of public health and safety.
In the year 2022, a total of 150 separate educational advisories were provided, and perishable goods were confiscated on 13 occasions.
Our Code Compliance department has been working diligently, providing educational information to help street vendors follow a path to compliance and, through the confiscation of perishable goods, to protect public health and safety.
In 2023, the code team provided 180 educational advisories and confiscated perishable goods over 400 times. Unfortunately, our efforts did not result in widespread compliance, leading the city to consider other options to uphold public health laws.
In response to the persistent unlawful business practices of unlicensed and unsafe street vendors, the city council implemented a revised ordinance aimed at strengthening the enforcement capabilities of the code compliance team. This ordinance, effective on November 23, 2023, introduced additional measures, including the potential impoundment of equipment for repeat offenders violating the health and safety codes of the State of California and the County of San Bernardino.
In a strategic move to optimize code compliance efforts economically, the City Council authorized the engagement of an independent third-party consultant. This consultant provides evening code compliance support six nights a week, with enhanced coverage initiated in early November 2023. This initiative presents a novel opportunity for educating unlicensed street vendors. The newly formed teams engage with each vendor, treating every encounter as a first-time interaction, issuing warnings and educational information.
Following the warning phase, subsequent encounters may lead to the confiscation of perishable goods and, potentially, the impoundment of equipment associated with the sale of such goods. The city remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring compliance and prioritizing the health and safety of the community. The overarching goal for 2024 is to achieve widespread adherence to the ordinance among street vendors.
On November 22, 2023, law enforcement officers from the Fontana Police Department successfully apprehended a suspect who was making criminal threats directed towards a prominent Fontana city official. The threats, which included disturbing language and explicit content, targeted the official with extreme racial slurs and threats of forced sexual violence.
The suspect, identified as Edwin Banuelos of Cudahy, was taken into custody without incident following a comprehensive investigation led by the Fontana Police Department Investigations Unit. The arrest was made possible through the diligent efforts of law enforcement officers, who acted promptly to ensure the safety and well-being of the city officials.
Banuelos has since provided a full confession, admitting to the charges brought against him. Banuelos revealed that his actions were influenced by certain individuals on social media who have been targeting city officials due to recent ordinances passed.
This incident highlights the potential dangers of online platforms and the influence they can have on individuals, leading them to engage in criminal behavior. Banuelos will face charges related to criminal threats, hate speech, and any other applicable offenses. The Fontana Police Department is committed to ensuring justice is served and the safety of all citizens is maintained.
City officials and the local community are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities or threats to law enforcement promptly. The Fontana Police Department is dedicated to fostering a safe environment for all residents and will continue to take enforcement action against those who attempt to disrupt the peace and well-being of the community.
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