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Food trucks, vendors banned from Art Walk

August 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It was another eclectic Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday.

But this month there was an increased police presence as the city cracks down on the crowds, as well as the food trucks and street vendors that draw many of them in.

The changes came in response to a tragic accident on July 14 when a car attempting to park jumped a curb and hit several pedestrians. A 2-month-old baby was killed.

The Art Walk has grown from an open house for a few art galleries in 2004 into an event that draws an estimated 30,000 people to the Old Bank district.

On the second Thursday of the month, dozens of food trucks and craft vendors typically set up in parking lots along Spring and Main streets, north of Seventh Street and south of Third Street.

City officials believe that a ban on vendors in the Art Walk's core will keep things safe.

"In order for it to keep going we have to put in a few transportation and public safety measures that would help it," said Councilman Jose Huizar. "And to control the crowd so we don't have any mishaps." Huizar and Councilwoman Jan Perry's council districts share the Downtown Art Walk.

Vendor permits will no longer be issued for the most heavily congested areas. Food trucks and other vendors have now been forced to the outer perimeter.

Last month there were over 70 vendor trucks at Art Walk. This month there will only be 45 and they will be outside the key Art Walk zone. The Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association says it is a knee jerk reaction.

"I think the better way of handling it would have been a little more preemptive," said Matt Geller with the Mobile Food Vendors Association. "Art Walk has been growing every year and there hasn't been much city involvement until it's more of a reactive situation."

"I just think it's overreaction," said Art Walk visitor Chris Kohlhof. "I think they need to pour more effort into trying to control the crowds rather than blame one particular group."

Vendor trucks feel that they are being unfairly targeted, however businesses support the move.

"By moving the food trucks out of the footprint of the Art Walk, I think that's a smart move," said Nancy-Jean Carlson, owner of Pet Project Pet Supply. "Spread it out. Disperse it a little so it's a little easier to move."

Extra police and fire personnel were on patrol, looking for any vendors violating the new rule as well as keeping the public safe.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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