BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Last week 16-year-old Zoraide Santos was selling flowers near the intersection of Harris Road and Gosford when she was issued an infraction for not having a business license.
Some witnesses were angry and recorded the incident, saying Santos should not have gotten in trouble. But city officials say it’s a matter of public safety.
“Permits kind of help navigate some of those rules and regulations for businesses and that way they know where they can be, where safe places, and where they can’t be so that they don’t endanger themselves or others," said City Public Information Officer Joe Conroy.
All street vendors are required to have a business permit and operate businesses within approved areas.
Santos said she started selling flowers to save up money for college during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since all schools are closed, I want to do something, not just be home, like, you get me? Not be home doing anything,” she said.
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, she was warned previously not to return to the location but did anyways. As a result, she was cited for a violation of the municipal code for not having a business tax certificate.
"It is unlawful for any person to transact and carry on any business in the city without first having procured a business tax certificate from the city to do so and paying the tax prescribed in this chapter or without complying with any and all applicable provisions of this chapter," states the code.
Santos was not arrested or charged with any crime. She says is currently applying for a business permit so she can continue selling flowers.
“I want to keep selling flowers because, like I said, for the future, I do want to go to college, and that I know of, college is expensive," Santos said.