Street Vendors Sue Over LA’s No-Vending Zones
Street vendors are suing Los Angeles over the city’s no-vending zones, areas where sidewalk vending continues to be banned in spite of its being legalized citywide four years ago.
On Thursday, street vendors and pro-street vending activists rallied on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, long a lucrative spot for street vendors, which was designated as one of several no-vending zones after the city and the state decriminalized sidewalk vending in 2018.
The lawsuit alleges that no-vending zones conflict with SB 946, the 2018 California law that decriminalized street vending.
Attorney Katie McKeon of Public Counsel, one of the attorneys representing the vendors, said according to the law, “you need to have an objective health, safety or welfare concern that justifies those restrictions or bans. The city has failed to provide any real justification or evidence justifying these bans.”
According to city law, sidewalk vending is prohibited within 500 feet of some of L.A.’s busiest attractions, among them the Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, and Dodger Stadium.
The goal, McKeon said, is for the city to remove these sidewalk vending restrictions, along with other restrictions that urge street vendors to stay away from certain large events such as swap meets.
City officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the suit; in the past, they’ve cited concerns about sidewalk congestion and pedestrian safety.
‘Without People, We Don’t Have Customers'
Among the demonstrators Thursday were vendors who still take their chances on the Walk of Fame. One of them, fruit and hot dog vendor Edgar Suy, said he’s racked up close to $3,000 in tickets since the area — where he has long worked — was declared a no-vending zone.
Suy said it’s worth it because he can still make good money selling on the Walk of Fame.
“Where they want us to go are places where there’s no foot traffic,” he said, “and without people, we don’t have customers.”
Street vendors have also struggled with the permitting process; so far, it’s been difficult for many of those who sell food to get the county health permits they need.
A bill signed into law this fall by Gov. Gavin Newsom that streamlines the permitting process is set to take effect in January.