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City of Reno hosts forum on street vending; Latino business owners raise concerns

A row of people standing toward the front of an auditorium while one of them speaks into a microphone. Rows of people in attendance are sitting in chairs facing toward them.
Maria Palma
KUNR Public Radio
The city of Reno and Northern Nevada Public Health hosted a sidewalk vending permit public forum on Feb. 22, 2024, in Reno, Nev.

The city of Reno and Northern Nevada Public Health hosted a sidewalk vending permit public forum on Feb. 22.

Lea en español

About 40 small business owners showed up for a bilingual presentation about the permitting steps for sidewalk vendors and recent changes to the Reno municipal code.

The meeting provided essential information for those who are looking to get permits, said Yeraldin Deavila, media and communications specialist for Northern Nevada Public Health (NNPH).

“We had a great turnout for this forum that we hosted alongside the city of Reno and we were really excited that the community showed up and expressed their concerns, their questions and we were able to provide that support for the community,” Deavila said.

However, attendees raised concerns about current unpermitted street food vendors.

Maria Adan, who owns La Carreta Taqueria and Lounge and two food trailers in Reno, said it’s not fair that sidewalk vendors now have less restrictions and inspections than her business does.

"I am a little disappointed because I see that the street carts are going to be left with less than a quarter of the restrictions that we have. We as merchants must raise our voices. I am not against the street carts, what I do not support is that they are treated differently with respect to licenses and restrictions," Adan said in Spanish.

Jose Escalona helps run a Mexican shaved ice trailer in Sun Valley. Unpermitted sidewalk vendors often take customers from him and on some occasions, he has been harassed, he said.

"The carts come around and approach us and take our customers away from us. I got tired of reporting and talking. It's not fair that the people who push the carts have it easier than us, they should follow the rules just like we do,” Escalona said in Spanish.

Any unlicensed sidewalk vendor is encouraged to get permits, Deavila said.

“It's unfortunate that unpermitted vendors have to turn to violence and threats. My message to unpermitted street vendors is to contact the NNPH to get the health permit that they need to operate safely in Washoe County,” she said.

The city of Reno and Northern Nevada Public Health said they are aware of the situation and will work together with small businesses and sidewalk vendors.

A closeup of an open brochure.
Maria Palma
KUNR Public Radio
The new regulation prohibits vendors from operating within 1,500 feet of resort hotels and convention facilities.

Permits and rules for sidewalk vendors have been in place with the city of Reno for several years; however, an update to the Reno municipal code was needed to comply with Senate Bill 92.

The recently updated city ordinance reclassifies sidewalk vending as a standard license and removes assigned locations, background checks, and fingerprints, making it easier for residents to get a business license and operate as a sidewalk vendor.

The city has also created an interactive map posted on Reno.gov/SidewalkVendors. This map identifies the zones where sidewalk vending is prohibited, based on distancing requirements established by the new state law.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.