Are these businesses legal?
Not all the merchandise sellers at Howe and El Camino are in the strip malls and other commercial property in the vicinity. Some sell their wares out of the back of their cars or under pop-up tents in the public right-of-way or along sidewalks. Are those streetside entrepreneurs doing business legally?
Have they obtained business licenses from the County? If not, is that fair to licensed businesses? Do they collect sales taxes? If not, how is that fair to businesses that do collect them? If not, how much money has the County lost that would otherwise be available for public infrastructure and services? Do they report sales income to the IRS and the state? If not, how is that fair to other taxpayers? If they have employees, do they comply with standards imposed on other businesses (minimum wage, benefits, no worker exploitation, etc.) and pay into the Workers Compensation system? If not, how is that fair to businesses that do comply with employment rules? Do they pay property taxes for their commercial sites, whether directly or through rent? If not, how is that fair to businesses that do pay property taxes? Or landlords that pay property taxes on property occupied by their tenants? Property taxes are use to support local governments like the County, our Special Districts, our School Districts and our Community College District. How much money is not collected for property taxes that would otherwise be available to those agencies for infrastructure and servcies?
If the businesses are not competing fairly, how do they get away with it? Could it be that the County doesn't enforce its regulations or only selectively enforces them? Maybe so, if the excuse the County has given for not enforcing its rules for comercial property signage are any guidance. You see, when we tried our little experiment about reporting violations of commercial signage rules to 311 Connect, County Code Enforcement told us they had suspended enforcement due to Covid. Hmm....you can lay eyeballs on commercial signage from inside your car and your main enforcement tool is a word processor, so "because Covid" is a pretty lame excuse. But never mind Covid, today is June 15th! It's Covid-be-gone Day! California is getting back to "normal". And, since "normal" used to mean loose, sloppy, selective enforcement, is it any surprise that some businesses are treated differently than other ones? How do you feel about that?