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What You Need To Know Today: Significance Of New Street Vendors Law, The Drought Continues, Remembering The Impact of Sacheen Littlefeather

A woman with a shirt that says "Guyanese mixed with..." smiles at the camera as she holds a container of shaved flavored ice.
Loni Ro, the CEO of Kalypso Sweet Ice, has been selling shaved ice under a tent in Leimert Park for four years. She is one of the many street vendors who will be impacted by SB 972.
(Courtesy Loni Ro )
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Tuesday, October 4.  

Today in How To LA: Navigating the legality of street vending; plus the drought continues as water reservoir levels fall below average.

You know what I’m craving this morning? Some fresh mangoes, pineapples and watermelon with a squeeze of lime and Tajín sprinkled over it. I’m gonna go in search of a food vendor.

But before I get out of my chair…let’s talk about the people behind those street vending carts. I want to introduce you to Loni Ro, the CEO of Kalypso Sweet Ice. Ro has been selling shaved ice from under a tent in Leimert Park for four years, and she’s one of the street vendors How To LA podcast host Brian De Los Santos interviewed for today’s episode about a new law that will make it a LOT easier for small food vendors like Ro to stay in business.

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This law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, will make it easier for vendors to get health permits. It goes into effect in 2023. In the past, despite efforts to get those permits, it’s been a struggle because the small push carts most vendors use didn’t meet the state’s standards for what’s required to sell food items.

Ro said she’s seen people forced to close up shop. “It creates a mental health fear,” she said. “If you’re like ‘no I don’t…you can’t throw my things away,’ I’ll pack up and leave.”

Consider the effort vendors like Ro put into their job everyday. She has to build a tent and then, after a full day of selling, she breaks it down by herself to take it home. She’s been able to apply to street and flea markets to do her business. And now, she’s able to have one annual permit. 

But the work is not done. Ro, who was a part of a group that helped advocate for the law, said that law enforcement, councilmembers, senators and even the vendors themselves now need to be educated on regulations and vendors’ rights. “I think once education is set and vendors are able to purchase their health permit and pass code inspection, I feel like peace of mind will be there,” Ro said.

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To get the back story on how this law came to be, listen to today’s episode of the How To LA podcast.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

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Wait! One More Thing...Remembering Sacheen Littlefeather

Sacheen Littlefeather stands in front of an Oscar statue wearing a traditional Native American dress
Sacheen Littlefeather at the Oscars
(Courtesy Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

When Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage at the Academy Awards in 1973 to speak on behalf of Marlon Brando and ask for fairer treatment of Native Americans, the backlash was immediate. She shared her story with LAist Studios’ The Academy Museum Podcast earlier this year, recalling that actor John Wayne, America’s beloved cowboy, attempted to assault her onstage. Even though I only recently learned about this incident and Littlefeather’s activism throughout her life, I can feel her impact.

I’m not the only one. That night at the Oscars, Littlefeather made a big impression on writer Rene Lynch, who was only six at the time. In today’s LAist piece, Lynch writes about what it meant to her to watch Littlefeather stand up for all Indigenous people. Growing up with a white father and a Native American mother, she felt the sting Littlefeather faced that night with the boos, insults and accusations from attendees and viewers. She, too, was told to know her place.

This year, not too long before she died, Littlefeather finally got the recognition and respect she deserved. There’s a quote Lynch used in her article that really hit me deep. It’s what Littlefeather said about the end of her life:

“And what we do is we start to give everything we have away before we go,” she said, “so that we have nothing to cling to here. Not even our bodies. We don't take that with us. Our spirit is free.”

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