The most heated item on the Oct. 16 Firebaugh City Council agenda pertained to the price of city permits for ice cream vendors.
Two community members formed an allegiance and approached the council during public comment. Retired police officers Ramiro Rodriguez and Navor Montoya spoke to the council about the $500 per quarter price to maintain their seller’s license for the city. Rodriguez spoke first, stating he had to decline a school function because the price to pay for his license was too high.
Another factor causing the two men to feel angst is that there are several unlicensed vendors taking business away. Montoya, who has been in business for 10 years, eventually spoke in Spanish to the board, reiterating the burdensome cost to maintain and pointed out that he has seen as many as eight or nine vendors walking with their ice cream carts.
Furthermore, Montoya explains that law enforcement never stops to verify street vendors’ licenses. “When I first started [selling ice cream], officers would stop me to see if I was licensed,” he lamented. Rodriguez also added that both of them pay taxes and that is an additional load to bear.
Council member Freddy Valdez stated that he supports an annual fee, rather than the current quarter system.
New city attorney Christina Di Filippo added that Governor Newsom has “been on a rampage” passing multiple business and labor laws that will go into effect in the new year. Councilmember Brady Jenkins asked Di Filippo if Firebaugh must follow state laws since we are a small community. She responded, “As a community, you can’t go bigger. You can charge $100 [for a business license] if the state says $200, but you have to stay within the state bounds.”
Jenkin tossed out another idea: ”If we charged a vendor $500 a year, would we be safe?” Di
Flippo confirmed this to be accurate.
While council members Elsa Lopez and Silvia Renteria moved to table this discussion, Valdez, Jenkins, Mayor Felipe Perez and City Manager Benjamin Gallegos were asked to gather additional information and provide an update at the next meeting with possible rates that surrounding cities charge their vendors.