There’s always been a certain irony that Los Angeles is the only one of America’s ten largest cities to have a blanket ban on street vending. Los Angeles is famous for its street vending culture, especially for the high quality food options available on many street corners, but every time a vendor takes to the streets, he or she is breaking city law. This has led to thousands of struggling low-income entrepreneurs being penalized with hefty fines, confiscated equipment, and even incarceration.
Yesterday, city officials took the first step to change that reality.
Flanked by dozens of supporters, members of the Los Angeles Street Vendor’s Campaign, and street vendors themselves, Council Members Curren Price and Jose Huizar rallied behind a motion that would set the city on a path to legal street vending at a rally at City Hall.
“Adopting a safe, legal and regulated street vending policy that works in concert with and compliments established businesses can add to the economic vitality of our city,” said Council Member Huizar. “Beyond providing much-needed regulation and a pathway for people to vend legally, this plan should also aim to increase access to good, healthy food.”
Price represents the 9th City Council District, which covers large portions of South Los Angeles. Huizar represents Downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and other communities east of the Los Angeles River.
Public health advocates have long argued that the city’s ban on street vending is a roadblock to improved public health. Occidental College Professor Mark Vallianatos has written extensively on this subject, including many times at Streetsblog.
“Decades ago the city pushed pedestrians out of the streets to make way for cars and banned vendors as obstructions on the sidewalks. Removing commerce – and especially food – from the sidewalks made them dead places, so it ironically reduced rather than promoted walking,” Vallianatos writes, noting that banning street vending is also about mobility planning that makes walking less attractive. Read more…