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Criminal charges have been filed on illegal street vendors in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara City Attorney's office has filed criminal charges against the owners of illegal vending operations in the city as part of an aggressive effort to curtail the growing impacts on legal businesses.

At a public meeting this week, an Assistant City Attorney said two criminal complaints for fire code violations have been filed and several others were on his desk for review.

It was said to be the strongest enforcement tool the city has right now.

An unnamed restaurant in Los Angeles has been referenced as the source of many illegal vending "kitchens" in Santa Barbara.

Those operate with open flames, propane tanks and a cooking operation with fire near grease. The city said some did not have fire extinguishers readily available. 

In a permitted fixed restaurant, fire prevention and response compliance is mandatory for an operating license.

Fire Marshal Ryan DiGiulio said he expects more charges to be filed against more operators soon. The city says simply citing an operation for blocking the sidewalk or bike lanes is a much smaller offense with less "teeth" to impact the vendors.

A fire code violation comes with criminal penalties that could include a fine and jail time.

Newschannel information requests have been made to get more details on the vendors and specific violations.

An arraignment in Santa Barbara Superior Court is expected Thursday.

A failure to appear results in an arrest warrant.

For weeks, small business owners and food truck operators with approved licenses have asked the city for help to stop multiple nightly set ups of food sites.

The city says a special task force has found the vendors being targeted have come from out of the area and have not agreed to seek local licenses or inspections.

The workers have said they aren't the owners and some have given false names and identifications.

The city has traced license plate numbers to registered owners, including business owners, to reach out with a conversation about legal issues if these vending operations continue.

It's an issue happening in several communities in California.

Santa Barbara officials say they want to help those who seek licenses to get them, and they want to stop illegal vending because of impacts on legally owned local food operations.

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Article Topic Follows: Crime & Courts
criminal complaint
local business
Santa Barbara

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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