Illegal food carts threatening business, health

SAN DIEGO - The owners of several local San Diego markets claim more illegal food vendors are popping up, and their target customers are school kids.

Mark Arabo, the president of the Neighborhood Market Association, says complaints have poured in from store owners upset the city isn't cracking down on the illegal vendors.

When schools on Orange Avenue in City Heights let out, kids hungry for an afternoon snack have plenty of options to choose from, including street vendors who are selling food without a permit or health grade.

“It's been affecting the children in our community, that's what our biggest concern is,” said Odette Media, manager of El Super Market.

Medina says kids have come into the store saying the food they bought from some vendors made them sick.

“From the actual children it's been like… upset stomach, and from the parents, it's been like, ‘we don't know what they're selling, we don't know if it's legal,’” Medina said.

The Owner of El Super says business has dropped close to 10 percent. He says he has only seen code enforcers out once, eight months ago.

“They need to enforce the laws on the books, protect the children, and we shouldn't have to beg the city to do their jobs,” Arabo said.

The street vendors 10News found did not want to talk on camera, but at least one said they did not have a permit.

Medina says she understands they want to work, but wants vendors to go about it the legal way.  

“I guess their purpose is a good one, to make a living, but the way they're playing it is not safe,” Medina said.

A spokesperson for San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald, whose district covers City Heights, told 10News code enforcers will come out when complaints are made.

The Neighborhood Market Association plans to send the city a letter asking for either better enforcement or a change to the law.

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