While some visitors appreciate a good Pierside hotdog, residents are fed up with the negative consequences stemming from the up to 100 unlicensed vendors that gather by the Pier each weekend.
On the weekend of Oct. 23 and 24, the City doubled down on its ongoing efforts to address the unlicensed vendors with new metal barriers and the deployment of five Allied Security professionals.
Problems associated with unlicensed vendors range from minor inconveniences due to crowding, to health risks from trash and liquid dumping to the very dangerous possibility of combustible fuels burning down the 112-year-old wooden pier.
Santa Monica’s vendor licensing program is designed to prevent these problems by limiting the legal number of vendors in the area and training them on fire safety, health codes and proper trash disposal. Unfortunately, most vendors have not been going through this process and the threat of administrative citations from Code Enforcement Officers has done little to encourage compliance.
In August, City Council passed new rules prohibiting the unpermitted use of combustible fuels on and around the Pier, the dumping of commercial trash in public receptacles and the dumping of liquid waste in public areas. These rules are enforceable by a misdemeanor, if warnings and citations are exhausted, and are targeted at the specific problems caused by vendors.
On Oct. 23 and 24, the City augmented these rules using the new strategy of barriers and private security guards.
According to City Manager David White’s report in an Oct. 26 City Council meeting, metal barriers were deployed at key access points to the Pier. While these barriers prevent carts from being rolled onto the Pier, they maintain pedestrian and ADA access.
Five Allied Security officers were stationed at the access point barricades to deter unlicensed vendors.
“The private security leverages an existing City contract with Allied Security for additional safety support in downtown parking structures, to augment staffing at key access points to the Pier to mitigate unpermitted vendors from accessing the Pier,” said Public Information Officer Constance Farrell.
According to White, Fire, Police, Public Works and Code Enforcement personnel were also present over the weekend.
“The planning and coordination across the teams was very strong, and on Saturday we saw a drastic reduction in the number of vendors that were able to access the Pier deck and cook with combustible fuels on the Pier,” said White, adding that the situation was improved on Sunday as well.
White said that this is an ongoing effort that will be analyzed and adapted to maximize effectiveness. There are plans to assess the spillover effects on the beach bike bath, secure additional access points, adjust shift timings and bring Allied Security back on a consistent basis. A budget augmentation to contract with Allied Security will be brought before Council on Nov. 9.
“Consistency and continuity are keys to keeping up this momentum, so we are working to ensure continued Allied Security presence to supplement City staff at the pier on weekends,” said White.
Public Works was already planning on presenting a renewal plan of the Allied contract to Council on Nov. 9 and is now considering asking for more funds to support a longer-term presence of Allied staff at the Pier.