Under a proposed resolution, sidewalk vendors who aren’t permitted through the Arcata Farmers’ Market could not set up shop within 200 feet of the event | Image from the City of Arcata website


After Arcata city staff learned that some community members, business owners and event organizers are a little confused when and where sidewalk vendors are allowed in town, the Arcata City Council will consider adopting new rules around sidewalk vending on city property and right-of-ways. 

During tonight’s meeting, the council will review a draft resolution that would potentially replace the city’s existing Plaza Vending Program – through which people can currently apply for a permit and pay and to vend on the Arcata Plaza – and establish clearer regulations for vending on sidewalks throughout the city. 

If adopted, the resolution would prohibit sidewalk vending on roadways or median strips, within 30 feet of an intersection, within 20 feet of a driveway and within 20 feet of a fire hydrant, electrical box or other emergency facility. The resolution would also prohibit sidewalk vending within 200 feet of a farmer’s market or other special event (the vendors for those events obtain their permits through the event planners.) Sidewalk vending would be allowed in parks, but not on the lawn or landscaped areas, according to the draft resolution. 

The resolution also establishes requirements for solid waste management, requiring that all sidewalk vendors provide at least one trash bin and one recycling bin for customers. Prior to closing up shop, the vendor would also be required to pick up any recycling or waste within a 15-foot radius of the vending location. If the vendor is selling food, they must comply with all of the City’s single-use container requirements, providing only fiber-based compostable foodware, charging 25 cents for disposable containers and offering a 25 cent discount for customers providing their own container. Food vendors must also visibly display a valid health permit from Humboldt County Department of Environmental Health.

To be clear, sidewalk vendors include people selling food, beverages or wares from their person or from a non-motorized vending cart. So this resolution would not apply to food trucks, which obtain a different type of permitting. It would also not apply to special event vendors. 

Since this is the council’s first discussion of the proposed resolution, the council will most likely give direction to staff and another draft of the resolution will come back before the council at a later date. You can view the full draft resolution here


Also during tonight’s meeting the council will discuss possible changes to the city’s Short-Stay Vacation Rental Ordinance, which caps the number of vacation rentals permitted in Arcata at 100, excluding rentals where the owner lives on the same property as the rental unit. 

During a meeting in June, the council discussed potential changes to the ordinance, including lowering the cap and changing or removing the exemption. Some concerns were brought up during that meeting surrounding the exemption and the ability of owners to occupy a property with multiple vacation rentals. However, some community members pointed out that the exemption helps ensure that more vacation rentals are operated by Arcata residents, instead of owners living out of the area. 

Tonight staff will present the council with more information and public feedback it gathered on the ordinance. The council will discuss eliminating or changing the owner-occupied exemption, changing the cap on the number of rentals permitted in the city, and whether or not the ordinance should include a “operator limitation” – which would limit the number of vacation rentals a single person can operate. 

If the council provides clear direction on these amendments during tonight’s meeting, then the ordinance would come back for adoption in December. 

The Arcata City Council meets tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 19) at 6 p.m. at Arcata City Hall – 736 F Street. 

You can view the full agenda and directions on how to participate here.