LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A judge said Thursday he will allow a coalition of street vendors suing the city of Los Angeles over its no-vending zones to proceed with a legal challenge to the ordinance.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant overruled the city's first legal challenge to the petition brought Dec. 7 by three community groups -- Community Power Collective, East Los Angeles Community Corp. and Inclusive Action for the City -- and two sidewalk vendors, Merlin Alvarado and Ruth Monroy.
Chalfant heard arguments Thursday before issuing the final decision.
The petition challenges the city's "no-vending zones" ordinance that prohibits sidewalk food sales within 500 feet of many of the city's most popular neighborhoods and tourist destinations, including the Universal Studios/CityWalk, the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The city maintains that allowing sidewalk vending in tourist areas and sports venues causes overcrowding that leads to pedestrians walking in the street.
The petitioners allege that no-vending zones conflict with SB 946, the 2018 California law that decriminalized street vending.
The coalition and the vendors say that in arguing that sidewalk sales in the targeted venues causes pedestrians to walk in the street, the city does not offer data demonstrating when and where pedestrians have encroached on the roadway, whether sidewalk vending is the cause or whether alternatives to a vending ban have been considered.
"That might be a legitimate concern," said Katie McKeon, an attorney representing the vendors. "But the city has simply made that statement, they haven't provided any evidence to demonstrate that there are in fact, traffic or congestion concerns."
According to Chalfant's tentative ruling, the city has not shown that its restrictions are directly related to objective health, safety or welfare concerns. He further said the city does not explain why the seven no-vendor locations were chosen, what overcrowding has occurred at those locations, why the 500-foot barrier was selected and whether sidewalk vending is directly related to the concerns stated.
For street vendors like Ruth Monroy, who began her business along the Hollywood Walk of Fame after the state passed a law allowing street vending, the city's ban has a real impact. She has faced citations that take an economic and mental toll.
The ongoing lawsuit with the city is part of a grassroots effort that began years ago for Los Angeles street vendors, who have played a role in creating statewide policies.
"We have two massive state laws that, we were thinking locally, but we did it on a statewide level," said Sergio Jimenez, an organizer with the Community Power Collective. "And, that's a product of being engaged."
The next hearing is set for June.
City News Service contributed to this report