california local news

Street vendors may soon be able to do business at top LA tourist spots

profile photo
By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The L.A. City Council Tuesday is set to consider rescinding so-called “No-Street-Vending-Zones,” which have been in place since 2018 and prohibited street vendors from selling goods at popular tourist areas.

Council members will consider approving an ordinance that would amend the city’s current street vending laws that would eliminate seven areas — 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 — where street vendors were prohibited from operating.

While these “blanket bans” would be removed, street vendors would still be required to follow certain safety and health regulations. Street vendors could face a ticket or penalty if they violate these more general rules.

The ordinance will require a majority vote then a second vote by the full City Council before it can be adopted. Mayor Karen Bass will also be required to approve the ordinance for implementation.

Five council members introduced the motion to initiate the process to remove the ban in October 2023, including Council President Paul Krekorian and council members Hugo Soto-Martinez, Curren Price, Nithya Raman and John Lee.

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.

As part of the County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, the five-members are expected to give final approval to a pair of ordinances regulating sidewalk food vendors, as well. The supervisors will consider giving final approval of a permit program for sidewalk vendors and approval of a subsidy program to help vendors cover permitting fees;

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill legalizing street vending. Senate Bill 972 makes it easier for vendors to sell food on streets throughout the state.

In 2018, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act that decriminalized street vending, but the bill required street vendors have equipment, like food trucks and catering businesses, rather than a stand or pushcart.

In addition, the City Council approved a motion in December 2023, which aims to establish a “Special Vending Zone” that would allow vendors to work on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Hollywood Bowl.

City staff are expected to report back on a plan to implement the Special Vending Zone pilot program in the future.

On Friday, in a 3-0 vote, the City Council’s Civil Rights, Equity Immigration, Aging and Disability Committee backed the plan to eliminate no-street-vending zones. Council members Imelda Padilla and Monica Rodriguez, who sit on the committee, were absent during the vote.

According to a representative from the city attorney’s office, any future bans or certain areas where street vendors might be prohibited would require legal reasoning that pertain to health, safety and welfare. Future bans would also need approval via council action, which would invoke a whole process and allow for public engagement.

The state law does not specifically define what would constitute health and safety concerns, so the city’s Bureau of Street Services will be the lead agency to set the rules and regulations for street vending zones.

Councilman Soto-Martinez, who chairs the civil rights committee, said he considered this a “win” because street vendors will now not be subject to such a blanket ban, and it will take city leaders to get into the weeds,” and define health and safety criteria before a ban or prohibition is enacted.

As a result of the ongoing lawsuit, the committee recessed into closed session to discuss certain details that could not be done in the public. In his final remarks, the councilman thanked several street vendors who joined the meeting.

“It’s a pretty big day because if this passes, we’ll start the process of getting rid of… the big sweeping no-vending zones in the city of Los Angeles,” Soto-Martinez said. “While there’s still a lot of work to be done on this subject, I think this is a great first step in giving folks the dignity and respect that they deserve in the city.”

Following the meeting, Public Counsel, and the three organizations suing the city, issued a statement noting that despite the “victory,” vendors will move forward with their legal action.

“Suddenly, just weeks before trial, the city has finally acknowledged that it has been enforcing illegal regulations over the past five years,” the statement reads. “However, the City has still not addressed the fact that enforcement of these unlawful regulations has resulted in hundreds of citations and thousands of dollars of fines issued to low income workers.”

A trial date is set for Feb. 15. Vendors are seeking legal resolution for hundreds of citations the city issued them in no-vending zones.

“Vendors will continue to seek accountability for the previous harm caused, which must include rescinding all citations issued for vending in prohibited zones and refunding any fines paid for these violations, as well as the full repeal of all exclusionary and arbitrary regulations,” the statement reads.

author photo
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.