Los Angeles' Plan To Finally Legalize Sidewalk Vending Gets Put On Hold
It's back to the drawing board for those in favor of legalizing every drunk person's favorite bacon-wrapped hot dogs. A motion to legalize street vending went up for consideration yesterday, but was sent back for more research. It seems like dirty dogs are everywhere, with carts wheeling up just as you're leaving the bar, getting off the train at rush hour or waiting in line for a big event. But despite their prevalence, they're technically illegal. And so are sidewalk fruit carts and many of the sidewalk sales you see on any given weekend.
L.A.'s Economic Development Committee considered a proposal yesterday to change all that, L.A. Weekly reports. However, they decided not to support the motion and instead, want more research on how the permitting process would work, according to City News Service.
The motion came from L.A. City Councilmembers Jose Huizar and Curren Price. According to the motion, there are thousands of these unlicensed vendors, and they're not deterred by the hundreds of tickets given out or arrests made each year. The motion divides street vending into two categories—food and merchandise—and points out that numerous other cities (Chicago, NYC, San Francisco) have a system in place for legal street vending. It's estimated that 1 in 5 street vendors sell food—the aforementioned dogs, produce and ice cream—and that accounts for about 10,000 of the about 50,000 vendors. Some neighborhood groups have argued that in certain areas, fruit vendors are one of the only ways families can get affordable produce.
From the motion:
In Los Angeles, a more comprehensive legal framework is required to effectively address sidewalk vending. An effective regulatory system has the potential to protect health and increase public safety and economic activity. Such a policy should also consider the rights and investments of brick-and-mortar businesses, including opportunities to expand and promote their businesses through street vending and with the overall goal of enhancing economic growth and the viability of neighborhoods.
If the motion had been passed, the City would have had 90 days to do some research and come up with some ideas about how to regulate and license street vendors. As it stands, opposing councilmembers are asking to see more information on what types of products will be sold, how many permits will be issued, legal vending locations and funding for the program.
"What I have before me is seven pages of a report that doesn't really even weigh some of the fundamental policy decisions we're going to have to make as a council,'' opposing Councilman Paul Krekorian said.
Huizar expressed surprise at the decision and the comments, saying they've been working on this issue for about a year.
The issue is also split among neighborhoods. The Studio City Neighborhood Council opposes the idea, while Highland Park, Los Feliz and the Greater Echo Park Elysian neighborhood groups are in favor. The Central City East Association does not want street vending to be allowed in Skid Row. Those opposed worry about taking business away from brick-and-mortar establishments, trash, noise, odors and public safety issues.
Local advocacy group The Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign was in attendance at yesterday's meeting. They have been campaigning for the legalization of street vending, saying that allowing permits would result in over 5,000 full-time jobs. They have also complained of being harassed by law enforcement, which would obviously change if street vending was made legitimate by the City. If you've ever enjoyed a bacon-wrapped dog at last call or purchased a piece of fruit on your way to work, you can support them and follow their campaign on Facebook here.