Finally, street vending will soon be legal in Los Angeles. After an 11-4 vote, the Los Angeles City Council took the next step towards legalizing street vending by ordering the City Attorney to draft an ordinance setting up a permit system for street vendors.
While street vending was illegal throughout the city, many vendors still operated, but had to do so in fear of serious consequences, and in February 2017 the city council decriminalized the practice.
Still, the vote removes a weight from many street vendors’ shoulders. “I’m happy, yes. But once this passes, I’ll be much happier,” stated Alejandra Rodriguez, a street vendor selling toys told KPCC radio.
Another bonus, the City Council failed to pass a provision that granted store owners veto power over the placement of street vendors on the sidewalks in front of their stores. Store owners will still have the ability to appeal permits that allow street vending adjacent to their storefronts.
Councilman Curren Price, who first introduced the ordinance along with Councilman Jose Huizar, claimed that “by creating a formal appeals process, we are allowing businesses the opportunity to weigh in, while also protecting the vendors from possible extortion.”
Los Angeles’s decision to relax the regulation of street vendors should serve notice to New York City, where the number of permits available for street vending has remained capped at 30,000 since the 1980’s. Receiving a permit in New York City can take decades, and unsurprisingly the system created a black market where permits can sell for thousands of dollars – with vendors essentially renting them from permit owners with no legal protection for their big financial commitment.
Overregulation on street vendors stifles entrepreneurship and restrict business opportunities for people – often immigrants – who are trying to make a living. Furthermore, it reduces access to more affordable food options, hurting low-income folks.