LA's Street Vendors Won't Be Fined — At First — As City Rolls Out New Rules

Street vendor Guillermo Morales hands a customer an elote, Mexican-style corn on the cob, smothered in crushed, spicy Takis snack chips. The Boyle Heights street vendor says the spicy snacks are his specialty. (Leslie Berestein Rojas/LAist)

UPDATE: The city of Los Angeles launched a new website Wednesday for its street vending permit program, which officially kicks off next month. The launch confirms that StreetsLA, formerly the Bureau of Street Services, will be charged with running and enforcing the new system.

The bureau's general manager Adel Hagekhalil said starting Jan. 2, vendors can apply for permits at StreetsLA, located at 1149 S Broadway #350. Vendors can get prepped on what they need to apply at any of the city's nine BusinessSource Center locations.

Hagekhalil said there will be a six-month grace period or "roll out phase." During this time, vendor permits will be available at $291 and fines will not be imposed. After July 1, 2020, the fee shoots up to $541 and vendors who violate permit rules or operate without one could face fines.

Hagekhalil said the goal is to educate vendors about the new system and that fines are a "last resort."

PREVIOUSLY: A new permit system for street vendors in Los Angeles goes into effect on Jan. 1. It marks a massive change — and one that's been years in the making. With less than two weeks to go, LAist has been trying to get answers about how it will be rolled out.

Late Tuesday, city officials offered some new information: There will be a grace period for street vendors as the new rules roll out.

Word of that decision comes after several weeks of street vending advocates asking the city to delay the new permit system. They don't think city officials, or even the vendors themselves, are ready to handle what will likely be a complicated and ambitious new program.

It appears city officials have heard those pleas. A spokesperson for the city confirmed in an email late Tuesday night that they'll delay the enforcement part for now. That means vendors who don't have permits won't be fined for the first few months, at least.

Many of the new program's details have not been made widely known before now. But here is what the city said when we asked the following questions:

The main thing I'm wondering is where the city is in getting ready for the new system to get into place?

The City expects to be ready to accept permit applications starting Thursday, January 2, 2020. The City will observe a grace period during which Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 42.13 will not be enforced while the permit process is in the rollout phase. An announcement about the grace period likely will be posted on the Bureau of Street Services website.

Where will people be able to get the permits? Will there also be an online portal to file for one?

The permits require a photograph of the vendor to be taken so no on-line applications will be accepted at this time.

A vendor is open for business in an alley off S. Lorena St. in Boyle Heights. (Megan Garvey / LAist)

What kind of ID or other paperwork will be needed to apply for one? How/when is the information getting out to the public?

City policy allows various forms of identification. An official U.S. identification is not required. Foreign passports and other forms of picture identification will suffice.

How are payments going to be taken? Will cash be an option, for example?

Payment will be accepted in cash, by check or cashier's check.

Can someone apply for multiple permits (some vendors have multiple locations)?

A permit is vendor-specific. Only one permit per vendor. Permits are not location-specific.

What are the penalty fees for getting caught on the sidewalk selling without one? Are there fees (if so what are they) for vendors who have the permit but are not complaint with other parts of the regulations? Do fees go up for multiple offenders? Who is enforcing this?

Fines for violations of the permit rules are $100 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense, and $200 for the third offense. Upon a fourth offense in one year, the permit can be revoked. Fines for vending without a permit are $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third offense. Fines can be reduced to 20% of the total for a person who meets the criteria (inability to pay) specified in California Government Code Section 68632(a) or (b). Citations can be issued by the Bureau of Street Services or LAPD.

This story has been updated to clarify the permit process.