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Aguilar invites street food vendors to join conversation about establishing regulations

Jannelle Calderon
Jannelle Calderon
GovernmentState Government
Gov. Joe Lombardo, state Sen. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas) and Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar at a ceremonial bill signing for SB92, legalizing street food vendors while setting regulations, surrounded by members of immigrant advocacy group Make the Road Nevada at the Latin Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas on July 18, 2023. (Jannelle Calderon/The Nevada Independent)

The multistage process to establish regulations and licensing for street food vendors is moving forward as Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar said he expects Washoe and Clark counties to have their ordinances ready by sometime next month and then start putting together the Task Force on Safe Sidewalk Vending. 

Although SB92 was signed into law last month, members of immigrant advocacy group Make the Road Nevada, food vendors and local officials gathered at the Latin Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday for a ceremonial bill signing and to celebrate the small businesses affected. 

The bill outlines some regulations, including that vendors cannot operate within 1,500 feet of a resort hotel or event spaces with capacities of 20,000 or more people that also accommodate a major or minor league sports team. But local governments and health departments can establish licensing fees and requirements, sanitary standards, hours of operation and distance limits from schools and restaurants.

Aguilar said there are many public conversations that still need to happen.

“We don't have regulations that we're ready to put forward now because we need to hear from the business community, we need to hear directly from the vendors. We need to hear from law enforcement. We need to hear from the health departments about exactly what we need to do,” Aguilar said. “Sometimes we [government officials] think we know the answers and we tell citizens what they should do. This is not that situation. This is a situation where the street vendors and entrepreneurs are going to come to us.” 

While specific outreach efforts and whether town halls will actually take place is still to be determined, Aguilar said groups such as Make the Road Nevada and the Latin Chamber of Commerce can facilitate conversations. 

“[The groups] know who their community is, they can represent them very well and act as an advocate between me and them but also to bring me directly to them to have that conversation,” Aguilar said. “I'm there to help shepherd that process. But in reality, this is a team effort.” 

The secretary of state said that the task force will include representatives from health districts, gaming and restaurant industries, county and city officials, business licensing officials and law enforcement.

Gov. Joe Lombardo noted in remarks at the bill signing that including members of law enforcement in the task force is especially important as a way to bring police and the community together. 

“Especially in the Latino community, there is a fear of interaction with the police force … But my intention — when I was the sheriff and now [Sheriff] Kevin McMahill’s intention — is to be partners with the community versus adversarial to the community,” Lombardo said. “And this is exactly proof in the pudding, per se, that the police department is going to embrace you, they're gonna ensure that you're doing the right things — dotting the i's and crossing the t's as a matter of the law. And we're here to help you, not hurt you in that endeavor.”

Before signing the bill, Lombardo said SB92 shows that “Nevada is open for business,” supporting often marginalized communities and overlapping his goal of increasing economic diversity. He added that signing the bill was a “no brainer.”

Although the governor has aimed to reduce regulations and burdens in certain occupations since taking office, he said these particular new regulations will make it easier for street food vendors to build their businesses. 

Las Vegas street food vendor Nayeli Hernandez said during the press conference that the new opportunity to become licensed allows her, and potentially hundreds of street food vendors in Southern Nevada, to get out of the shadows. 

“Today I feel stronger and more confident than ever because this law brings us out of the darkness … This is just one step. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to advocate for the issues that affect us. But this celebration shows us that yes we can,” Hernandez said in Spanish. “Let us celebrate the courage and determination of every street food vendor. Let us celebrate the diversity and the contributions that our Latino community makes to Nevada.”


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