The City’s Economic Development Committee Approves the Creation of a Working Group that will Develop Guidelines for Food and Retail Street Vendors
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Economic Development Committee unanimously approved the creation of a working group Tuesday that will design, fund and implement a new city-wide street vending program. The action comes as a result of the motion, co-authored by Councilmembers Curren Price and Jose Huizar, which called for a review of existing street vending regulations. Addressing a decades old concern in the city, the working group will establish sidewalk vending districts city-wide, as well as a permit process and new enforcement guidelines. The working group will also create a community education campaign to increase vendor compliance.
“It is about time that Los Angeles joins every other major city in the country, by producing a properly regulated street vending system that is fair to vendors, consumers and small business owners,” said Councilman Curren Price. “Thousands of Angelenos are already making their living by selling food and retail items on our streets and sidewalks. This program will simply allow us to better regulate and manage this industry.”
“Our current street vending system is untenable and impossible to enforce,” said Councilmember Huizar. “It’s unfair to brick-and-mortar businesses and it’s unfair to vendors who truly want to play by the rules under a permitted and regulated system. Today we are taking an important step toward a new model that with extensive input from all parties will be a win-win-win: a win for vendors, a win for businesses and a win for the City of Los Angeles.”
Currently Los Angeles is believed to have tens of thousands of street vendors operating throughout the city, in an unregulated environment and an underground marketplace. The lack of a balanced and accessible regulatory framework governing street food vending exposes consumers to potential health risks and operators to an uncertain and risky work environment that can lead to steep fines and even jail time. According to reports from LAPD, more than 2,000 street vendors were arrested since 2012 with the majority of those arrests happening in the Southern, Central and Eastern portions of the city.
City officials reported that sidewalk food and retail vending programs are currently permitted in several major urban cities including New York, Portland and Chicago. Most of these cities have found that street vending helps increase the economic vitality of their communities. Councilmembers Huizar and Price said any framework for street vending must support brick and mortar stores and restaurants with the ultimate goal of supporting local enterprise, protecting health and public safety, improving the effectiveness of the City’s current enforcement, and legitimizing job opportunities.
The working group was asked to report back on their guidelines in 90 days.