Los Angeles Finally Legalizes Street Vending

Wednesday was a momentous day for the tens of thousands of street vendors who sell food and goods on the sidewalks of L.A. After years of debate, protest, and lobbying by immigrant rights advocates, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to legalize and regulate street vending within city limits. Shouts, cheers, and applause erupted on the steps of City Hall.

Council members weren’t merely acting out of compassion for L.A.’s street salesmen. A state law signed by Gov. Brown in September prompted the action by decriminalizing street vending statewide. It required cities to come up with an approval and regulation process or lose their enforcement powers altogether.

Interestingly, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the hardline immigration policies he ushered in played a key role in changing attitudes toward street vending. Fears of immigrant deportation were a major impetus both behind the state decriminalization bill as well as a local decriminalization measure approved by the city last year.

L.A.’s new law will take effect in January. It includes the following provisions:

  • Vendors must obtain required state and local business and health permits.
  • Vendors are required to clear surrounding trash and allow space for passersby.
  • Vendors must keep a minimum distance from driveways, curbs, building entrances and fire hydrants. They may not operate within less than 3 feet of another vendor.
  • Only two vendors will be allowed per acre in city parks and they cannot operate within 25 feet of one another or within 100 feet of a park building or playground.
  • Vendors are banned from Leimert Park and busy venues such as the Hollywood walk of fame, Universal Studios, and around Dodger Stadium.