The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday directed the city’s attorneys to draft a proposed sidewalk vending ordinance while rejecting a late push by some members to keep an option alive that would have allowed nearby brick-and mortar businesses to have the power to veto vendor licenses.
On Monday, the council’s Economic Development Committee approved the proposed regulations and made an alteration that eliminated the veto power and replaced it with a formal hearing process that would allow adjacent property owners to voice concerns and submit appeals to proposed sidewalk vendors based on health and safety issues.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilman Bob Blumenfield asked his colleagues to direct the city attorney to come back with both options and allow the council more time to investigate the issue, but his amendment was rejected on a 6-9 vote. The subsequent vote to have the ordinance drafted only with the appeals process was approved on a vote of 11-4.
Councilman Curren Price, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, argued that the veto power could open sidewalk vendors to extortion from brick-and-mortar businesses. The business veto had also been strongly opposed by many vendors and led seven women from the LA Street Vendor Campaign to be arrested outside City Hall last month during a protest where they blocked traffic.
“While it is reasonable to notify property owners adjacent to proposed vending locations, I am adamantly opposed to giving an individual control over who can obtain a permit and ultimately participate in the city’s sidewalk vending program,” Price said on Monday. “By creating a formal appeals process, we are allowing businesses the opportunity to weigh in, while also protecting the vendors from possible extortion.”
The proposed ordinance would create a comprehensive sidewalk vending program that would fully regulate the new industry. Advocates for the regulations say Los Angeles is one of the only major cities in America that outlaws all sidewalk vending, although it decriminalized the practice last year in favor of issuing citations while the council develops a permitting process.
The regulations forwarded by the council would limit many blocks to two vendors, but would allow for the creation of special vending zones where more would be allowed.
Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, in February introduced legislation that would prohibit making sidewalk vending a crime across the state and allow local governments to regulate sidewalk vending if they create a permit process.