LA to let street vendors return to tourist spots like Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Bowl

City News Service
Friday, February 9, 2024
Street vendors allowed to return to LA tourist spots
Los Angeles is rescinding a ban on street vending in popular tourist areas like Dodger Stadium and Exposition Park that had been in place since 2018.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday rescinded no-street-vending zones in place since 2018 that prohibited street vendors from selling goods at popular tourist areas.

The council voted unanimously to amend the city's current street vending laws and eliminate seven zones where street vendors were prohibited from operating: the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, LA Live/ Arena, Universal Studios/City Walk, El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument and Exposition Park.

"I think what we're voting on is going to reflect the personal experiences of those street vendors and how they experience the city of Los Angeles,'' Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez said prior to the vote.

The councilman noted the move was very personal to him, as he remembered coming to City Council meetings years ago with his parents who were street vendors and urging city leaders to support them.

"We see you. We value your hard work and what you bring to the city," Soto-Martinez said. "And hopefully, we will continue to work with the folks that are most affected by this as we continue to evolve the ordinance."

The ordinance will take effect in approximately one month, according to city officials.

While these blanket bans will be removed, street vendors will still be required to follow certain safety and health regulations, and could face tickets if they violate the rules.

According to Valerie Flores, chief assistant city attorney, in the future the City Council could enact vending restrictions in certain areas, but it would require an ordinance. Additionally, there must be specific findings that justify why the restrictions are needed.

Council members Soto-Martinez, Curren Price, Raman, John Lee and Krekorian introduced the motion that initiated the process to remove the no-street-vending zones in October 2023.

The motion came in response to an ongoing lawsuit against the city for allegedly violating the rights of street vendors and not complying with state law. Public Counsel, a nonprofit law firm, is representing Community Power Collective, East LA Community Corporation and Inclusive Action for the City in their lawsuit against the city.

During public comment, Community Power Collective member Sergio Jimenez said the group supported the ordinance, but emphasized that the lawsuit will continue. A trial date is set for Feb. 15. Vendors are seeking legal resolution for hundreds of citations the city issued to them in the no-vending zones.

He added that the city continues to issue citations to street vendors.

"Today, we're here to tell you that this ordinance is important and necessary, but also to remind you that the job is not done."

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 972, which makes it easier for vendors to sell food on streets throughout the state. The state law does not specifically define what would constitute health and safety concerns.

The city council also this week drastically reduced the permit fees required of street vendors. The cost has been $291 per year and was initially set to increase to $541, but the council unanimously voted Tuesday to establish a $27.51 per-year permit fee for the Sidewalk and Park Vending Program.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also gave final approval to a pair of ordinances regulating sidewalk food vendors, while also adopting a subsidy program to offset much of the permit costs included in the new regulations.

The board gave preliminary approval to the vending ordinances last week, with Supervisor Hilda Solis saying there are roughly 10,000 sidewalk vendors selling food in the county, most of them coming from Latino and other communities of color.

The first ordinance approved by the board outlines health-permit requirements for "compact mobile food operations," which are smaller operations run from carts or other non-motorized equipment. The ordinance will apply to all vendors in the county -- except those in Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon, which all have their own health departments. The city of Long Beach recently approved its own sidewalk vending ordinance.

Under the county ordinance, obtaining a health permit will require the operator to pay an initial fee, ranging from $508 for a low-risk operation selling pre-packaged food to $1,186 for higher-risk vendors who prepare and sell hot food, such as a taco stand or hot dog cart. Vendors will then have to pay ongoing annual fees ranging from $226 to $1,000, depending on the type of vending.

The Board of Supervisors approved a subsidy program Tuesday that will cover the vast majority of cost for the health permits. Vendors who meet several qualifications -- including annual revenue of less than $50,000 -- can apply for a subsidy that would cover 75% of the health permit costs, lowering the initial fee to between $127 and $297, according to the motion by Solis and Supervisor Holly Mitchell.