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This Food Cart Designed By A Former Street Vendor Meets LA County's Strict Rules For Legal Vending

A rendering of a Richard Gomez's tamal cart in blue with an umbrella attached.
(Courtesy of Richard Gomez
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While California legalized street vending a few years ago, it's difficult for food vendors to comply with the L.A. County Department of Health's strict rules has been very high.

One major difficulty has been cart design. The county requires street vendors to use a cart that has four sinks and refrigeration. That's too expensive and clunky for most vendors.

Without a cart that meets requirements, vendors can't get permits from the health department so many of them operate without a permit and live in fear of being caught up in a city or county enforcement sweep.

Listen: What’s Next For Street Food Vendors?
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Richard Gomez wants to change that. The former street vendor and food truck engineer has designed a tamal cart that meets the county's health requirements and the cost starts at around $7,500.

Gomez's design is the first to get official approval. It gives vendors hope that the county will allow other carts that work for them. Our friends at L.A. Taco and Capital and Main co-published a great story about the process.

Four pot lids are situated around a center umbrella pole in a detail rendering of the tamal cart.
A detail shows some of the feature's of the cart.
(Courtesy Richard Gomez)

Lyric Kelkar of the advocacy group Inclusive Action wants the county to rethink other health rules like requiring fruit vendors to cut their food at a central kitchen.

"Those types of systems — we need to be rethinking them to ensure that vendors are truly included in this economy," Kelkar says.

Kelkar points to outdoor dining as an example of how local governments can support restaurants, especially during the pandemic, and he want officials to extend the same kind of support to street vendors.

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