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2 L.A. City Council members want to legalize, regulate street vendors

November 06, 2013|By Kate Linthicum
  • Two L.A. City Council members are calling for a study of how the city can legalize street vending. Above, a file photo of a hot-dog vendor in downtown L.A.
Two L.A. City Council members are calling for a study of how the city can legalize… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles is famous for its vibrant street vending culture, with sidewalk entrepreneurs hawking everything from used clothing to bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

But because the city code prohibits selling things on sidewalks, vendorsĀ face hefty fines, confiscated equipment and even incarceration.

Two members of the Los Angeles City Council would like to change that.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the Eastside of Los Angeles, and Councilman Curren Price, whose district takes in much of South L.A., are expected to present a motion Wednesday calling for a study of how the city can legalize street vending. That would bring Los Angeles in line with other major cities, including New York and Chicago, that allow people to sell things on sidewalks.

A spokesman for Huizar said any legislation would involve regulation, such as requiring vendors to register with the city. In the case of food vendors, regular checks by L.A. County health inspectors would probably be required.

Storefront business owners have long complained that sidewalk vendors -- as well as food trucks -- are unfair competition because they don't pay rent or taxes. Huizar spokesman Rick Coca said the councilman is interested in reducing the proliferation of street vendors in some neighborhoods.

"We need to hear from everybody," said Coca. "We want to make sure that whatever we create is not hurting brick-and-mortar businesses."

They council members are planning a Wednesday morning news conference outside City Hall with a coalition of organizations working to change street vending rules, including East L.A. Community Corp., the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and the L.A. Food Policy Council.

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Twitter: @katelinthicum

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