FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Social media users are calling an encounter between the Fresno County Department of Public Health and a Central Valley street vendor an ‘injustice.’
In a viral video from Friday night outside the Save Mart Center after a concert, the health department is seen tossing away hot dogs after finding out the vendor did not have the proper permit to sell. The food cart is later confiscated.
“This is just a young boy trying to earn a living, trying to help feed his family,” said councilmember Luis Chavez. “That’s no way to send a message and encourage our young people to be entrepreneurs.”
Chavez said the boy in the video is 16-year-old Edgar Tol from Bakersfield.
Chavez explained the City of Fresno was not involved, but it was actually the county. In a statement, Fresno County Public Health said the Save Mart Center requested the inspection.
“The street vendors at the Save Mart Center did not have a permit to sell food in Fresno County. Our health inspectors are required by the California Health and Safety Code to discard any food which may cause food-borne illness, in order to protect the health of the public,” the statement read.
“The Fresno State Police Department was on site to help support a cooperative effort while the Fresno County Health Department staff undertook their enforcement activities,” Fresno State said in a statement.
“I think with the county and all the pressing issues that we have with homelessness, with illegal dumping, I think they could’ve made better use of their time,” said Chavez.
Last year, the City of Fresno launched the Street Vendor Association to protect vendors against violent attacks, while also helping them navigate the city and county permitting process.
Miguel Ruiz is a member of the association and says the county permits have a lot of requirements that make it challenging for them to register. The process can take 3-6 months and it can be expensive.
“It costs anywhere from $700 to $2,000 for the county permit fees,” said Chavez.
The District 5 representative said he will be working with county leaders to streamline this process.
“We’re going to be working with them on making sure that we either reduce those fees or figure out a grant for them to be able to afford that,” he said.
In the meantime, Karina Rodriguez, the woman who shot the video, has set up a GoFundMe account for Edgar.
Edgar says he came from Guatemala six months ago and is trying to make ends meet selling hot dogs. He says the money will help him get a new cart.