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City of Los Angeles Allows Sidewalk Permits for Street Vendors

Street vendors and their supporters celebrate at Los Angeles City Hall after Los Angeles City Council legalizes street vending on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.  (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Staff Photographer

Street vendors and their supporters celebrate at Los Angeles City Hall after Los Angeles City Council legalizes street vending on Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Rebecca Tao, Staff Writer

Illegal vending is a major issue in Los Angeles County. In addition, street vendors often face harassment, and a viral video of an elotero (a street food vendor) being attacked sparked outraged at the lack of protection for street vendors. Vendors were not protected from these acts of violence as shown in countless cases of assault and harassment. However, street vending has finally become legal in the County of Los Angeles.

In September 2018, former Governor Jerry Brown signed an official Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (SB 946) which requires the cities and counties of California to state the specifics on their regulations for street vending. State Sen. Ricardo Lara remarked that “With Senate Bill 946 we can start seeing sidewalk vendors for who they are–women and seniors, single parents, and micro-business owners taking that first step to starting their own business,” upon the bill’s release. Lara first introduced the bill after viewing news on vendors being harassed and even arrested. The Act passed in the council 13-0 and will affect the estimated 50,000 street vendors in the City of Los Angeles.

This year, Los Angeles will undergo a citywide permit program that will allow vendors to operate in specific locations. For instance, vendors are restricted from operating near large event venues like the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Coliseum. To ensure the quality of the products by the vendor, street vendors are required to obtain a business license and health permits from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. They also need to pay taxes and possess a valid California Department of Tax and Fee Administration seller’s permit. Failure to present such requirements would result in a fine that increases based on the number of violations. On the fourth violation, a vendor’s permit can be rescinded. Although fines may be issued, the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act bans criminal penalties for vending, and vendors cannot be charged with an infraction or misdemeanor. However, there is also stricter legislation, like the proposal that there can be no more than two vendors in one acre of a city park.

At the 626 Night Market, a local event that occurs over the summer, there is a great variety of vendors—from those who are already established to startup microbusinesses. The night market presents them a wonderful outlet to advertise, put forward their branding, and ultimately, increase their business. However, unlike street vending which costs $50 to $75 for a permit, it costs much more to be a vendor for the night market. Furthermore, the night market takes vendors through inquiries, meaning not every application is guaranteed a spot at the market. Therefore, with the passing of this new act, vendors who are not able to afford to attend such events will still be able to safely market their items on the street.

Overall, the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act was in effect as of Jan. 1, and its purpose is to offer greater protection for street vendors while ensuring the quality and safety of their products.

Image courtesy of LOSANGELESDAILYNEWS.COM

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City of Los Angeles Allows Sidewalk Permits for Street Vendors