Street Vendors Ask LA City Council for a Chance

Vendors gather in Los Angeles City Hall on Monday, Apr. 16, 2018 to support a new proposal to allow street vendors to operate under license from the city. (Nathan Solis/ Courthouse News Service)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Street vendors asked the city of Los Angeles Monday to quickly pass a law that would legalize their industry, while brick-and-mortar businesses called for strict oversight of vendors who create public safety issues near their properties.

Los Angeles, the land of taco trucks and food carts, will see rules and regulations by the end of this summer, according to a city committee, who moved forward a general framework for a legal system that will require permits, no-vending areas and perhaps other changes.

Nearly four years ago, city officials first proposed the concept of a legal framework. Since then, critics and supporters of establishing rules on the industry have weighed in.

One component that was diluted on Monday was the concept that property owners would be able to veto which street vendors can receive permits near their businesses.

Giving property owners that kind of power over street vendors would encourage extortion, said Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price. Instead, nearby businesses will be notified when a vendor applies for a permit so they can voice their concerns.

Brick-and-mortar businesses say street vendors are unregulated and create a public safety situation in their communities where they block sidewalks and force people into traffic. Several business representatives said the city’s framework should hold those vendors accountable.

Martha Castro started her own business as a street vendor and encouraged the committee to pass an ordinance to legalize the industry.

“We want to be able to demonstrate to you we are doing the best we can,” Castro said in Spanish during the committee meeting. “We’d like to have the opportunity to work to show you we can do it the right way.”

Carla De Paz from East Los Angeles Community Corporation asked the committee to not create policies based on exclusion. The majority of street vendors who attended Monday’s meeting were Hispanic women who say their livelihoods are at stake.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino acknowledged the city’s food culture and its connection to street vendors and taco trucks. But he also asked a representative from the Los Angeles Police Department if the city’s current citation program is effective enough to deter repeat offenders.

Colleen Jimenez, asset manager for the Hollywood Roosevelt, said the committee needed to bring order to what she described as chaos on Hollywood Boulevard. Other business representatives said that unchecked street vendors hurt the local tourist industry.

The committee approved the general framework for a citywide program and the city attorney’s office will draft an ordinance in the coming weeks. The plan is to have an ordinance before the committee later this summer.




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