LA street vendors call on city, county to issue moratorium on enforcement

Anabel Munoz Image
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
LA street vendors call for moratorium on enforcement
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Los Angeles street vendors say that while the county is cracking down on them, it is almost impossible to get permits to operate legally.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Dozens of street vendors held a protest outside Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday to call on the city and county to issue a moratorium on code enforcement.

They say while the county is cracking down on them, it is almost impossible to get permits to operate legally.

"We have seen an uptick in enforcement in the last few weeks that we haven't seen in a very long time," said Lyric Kelkar, policy director at Inclusive Action for the City.

Kelkar cites instances of vendors getting their food thrown away and equipment confiscated.

"That food permit is really hard to get for certain vendors," Kelkar said. She added that granting permits for vendors who sell tacos and pupusas can be rigorous due to cart requirements.

RELATED: LA street vendors describe challenges to acquiring permits

They say the carts needed would be too large for a sidewalk due to existing city restrictions.

Members of the Africa Town Coalition participated in the rally. Some have experienced challenges obtaining permits and want to ensure a scheduled increase in fees from $291 to $541 does not go into effect.

L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León says while there should be regulation on food safety, he does support a moratorium.

The county is working on a pilot program to design carts that meet requirements and aim to make them low-cost.

As of now, city and county officials have not issued a formal position on a moratorium on enforcement in the interim.

The L.A. County Public Health Department issued the following statement last week about enforcement that reads in part:

"If an inspector determines that a mobile food vendor's vehicle or cart does not have the necessary equipment, such as appropriate refrigeration, a hand washing and dual compartment sink or a valid public health permit. Inspectors are authorized by the California Retail Food Code to confiscate the vendor's food as it is presumed to be unsanitary and not safe for public consumption. Many times health inspectors have been threatened or intimidated while inspecting unpermitted food vendors. Accordingly, from an employee safety perspective it is necessary for law enforcement officer to accompany them on pre-planned sweeps of areas known for unpermitted food vending."