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SB 972- Further Decriminalizes Sidewalk Vending



As of January 1, 2023, cities no longer have the authority to criminally enforce the California Retail Food Code regarding sidewalk vendors, continuing the trend started in 2018 with the passage of SB 946. Moving forward, cities that have adopted the Retail Food Code by reference cannot criminally enforce the absence of county-required health permits for vending food.

Importantly, cities retain the authority to issue administrative citations for the same offense. Further, cities retain the same enforcement authority over such aspects as hours of operation, locations, prohibitions on blocking access to public facilities, and public health laws outside of the Retail Food Code, like littering, waste disposal, etc.

The law adds “compact mobile food operation” as a regulatory category, intended to govern small push-cart types of vending equipment otherwise left out of SB 946. Limited food preparation also is permitted, as defined.

Further, the law removes the requirement of a health permit for certain vending activities by sidewalk vendors and compact mobile food operators with 25 square feet or less of display area that are only selling bagged snacks, cans of soda, bottled water, whole fruits and vegetables, canned goods that do not need to be refrigerated, and other similar foods. SB 972 enacts other regulatory changes to equipment requirements, use of established kitchen spaces to support sidewalk vending, and the interplay between cottage food preparation and home kitchens.

For cities that have relied upon issuance of a health permit as a prerequisite to issuance of a business license, a municipal code or policy update may be required for compliance with state law. The complexity of implementing SB 972 in a specific jurisdiction may reveal other necessary changes to local codes, policies, and practices. Cities should consult with their legal counsel to ensure compliance with this new law.


Aleshire & Wynder LLP provides unparalleled legal representation to local communities throughout California.  Our attorneys have been loyally serving public agencies for over 35 years. 

For further information, please contact G. Ross Trindle, III from Aleshire & Wynder, LLP at (951) 241-7338 or visit our website

Ross Trindle provides a unique blend of broad-based transactional and litigation experience to suit any challenge at every stage of a problem, dispute, or issue. He has extensive experience in state and federal court litigation from inception through trial and on appeal, and acts in the capacity of general counsel and transactional counsel, with emphases on water/wastewater, accessibility, public safety, cannabis, and government technology—body cameras, cybersecurity/electronic privacy, surveillance, unmanned aircraft systems (drones), and alternative energy.

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