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COVER STORY : Signatures and Hearings Would Precede Any Street Sales

July 25, 1993|ROBERT J. LOPEZ

The city's proposed street vending ordinance would set up vending districts in several areas of the city and require vendors to comply with business and health regulations.

To apply for establishing a vending district, vendors or their supporters would have to collect signatures from 10% of the residents and businesses of each block in the area. Storekeepers next to each vending site would also have to agree to the vending district.

Opponents could try to block a district by also gathering signatures from 10% of the residents and businesses in the same area.

The signatures would then be sent to the city's Board of Public Works, which would schedule a public hearing on the matter before making a decision. In addition, the City Council member representing the area would review the proposal and provide recommendations.

The 500-member Street Vendors Assn. plans to apply for vending zones in the Pico-Union and Westlake area, Brooklyn Avenue and Soto streets in Boyle Heights, Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue near Hollywood, and possibly the area near Our Lady Queen of Angels Church at Olvera Street.

Attorneys who negotiated on behalf of the vendors acknowledge that, at best, only 500 of the city's estimated 5,000 vendors would be able to fit in those four districts.

"I think it's real clear this is not a panacea and the vast majority are not going to fit in the districts," said Madeline Janis-Aparicio, a lawyer working for the ordinance.

But at least some vendors will be able to operate legally while supporters push for more districts, she said, adding, "It's better than what exists now."

The vendors organization said it might conduct a lottery to determine who is selected for the districts.

Complying with the ordinance's requirements will not be inexpensive for the vendors. The costs of purchasing an approved push cart, several permits and insurance will total about $2,400 the first year, according to the association. Permits and insurance for the second year will be about $900.

Such expenses can be prohibitive for many vendors, who make as little as $10 a day. But the association has raised $53,000 for business loans to help defray the costs.

Under the ordinance, all food would have to be cooked and prepackaged at approved kitchens. Vendors association officials say the organization is raising money to pay for kitchens in each vending district.

The zones would be managed by private groups, such as the association, which would be responsible for ensuring that vendors adhere to requirements.

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