The Los Angeles City Council’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) this week voted to find common ground in developing an enforceable and fair sidewalk vending ordinance by rejecting a proposal that would allow brick-and-mortar business owners the power to veto sidewalk vendor licenses. Instead, committee members favored a plan that would establish a formal hearing process, allowing adjacent property owners to voice concerns and submit appeals to proposed vendors based on health and safety issues.
“While it is reasonable to notify property owners adjacent to proposed vending locations, I am adamantly opposed to giving an individual control over who can obtain a permit and ultimately participate in the City’s sidewalk vending program,” said Councilman Curren D. Price, who chairs EDC and first introduced a motion to create a sidewalk vending policy in 2013 alongside fellow EDC member Councilmember José Huizar. “By creating a formal appeals process, we are allowing businesses the opportunity to weigh in, while also protecting the vendors from possible extortion.”
The EDC has approved details of what would be the first-ever citywide sidewalk vending program. In addition, committee members asked for the development of enforcement protocols, including possible confiscation of goods and equipment, to ensure the health and safety of the community. The proposal went before Tuesday’s meeting of the full council; an ordinance could be in place by July 1, 2018, with the program expected to be fully operational in 2019.
“Today’s vote allows us to find the middle ground that we have been seeking since Councilmember Price and I introduced this motion in 2013,” said Councilmember Huizar. “And what was true in 2013 is still true today: we have a predominantly immigrant, low-income workforce who desperately want us to regulate them so they can come out of the shadows and feed their families. We should help them do just that, while ensuring we have proper regulation. What we have right now does not work and, let’s be clear, that futility will continue if we cannot vote on a sensible proposal.”
In 2017, the city council voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize sidewalk vending in response to the Trump Administration’s policy that places undocumented immigrants with criminal charges in jeopardy of being deported. Since then, close to 1,500 pending misdemeanor charges against sidewalk vendors have been dropped.