The City Council voted today to craft an ordinance decriminalizing street vending, bringing Los Angeles closer to no longer being the only major American city that prohibits it.
The proposal, which was put forward by council members Joe Buscaino and
Curren Price, would replace criminal penalties with a permit system enforced
through fines and property confiscation.
The 11-2 vote authorizes the city attorney to craft an ordinance, but
there will likely be more debate and possible changes to the proposal before it
comes back to the council for final approval.
The general idea for an ordinance decriminalizing street vending has the
support of the Coalition to Save Small Business and the L.A. Street Vendor
Campaign, but there has been significant opposition to key parts of the
proposal as it stands, including the requirement that vendors get permission
from existing brick and mortar businesses on the block and restricting the
number of vendors in many areas to two per block.
Mike Dennis with the L.A. Street Vendor Campaign voiced support for
decriminalization but requested changes to the proposed ordinance.
“We also want to make sure that two vendors per block is something that
is reconsidered. It just doesn’t work when you are looking at the city’s
blocks. It is a very diverse city and many blocks can accommodate more vendors
per space,” Dennis said.
During a public hearing on the proposal at the Public Works and Gang
Reduction Committee on Dec. 12, Buscaino told the crowd that what was being
advanced to the full council is a “framework” for a policy, and that if the
council voted to direct staff to craft an ordinance, it would come back to the
committee for a “full dissection” before going to back to the council again.
“Los Angeles is the only major city in this country that prohibits
vending, every type of vending, 24 hours a day throughout the entire city over
approximately 11,000 miles of sidewalks,” Buscaino said during the council
“The important question the council must answer is whether vending
poses a threat so grave to public safety and welfare that is it worth
continuing to expend limited police resources enforcing a citywide ban on all
sidewalks at all times.”
The proposal also notes President Donald Trump’s stated goal of
deporting immigrants with criminal records who are in the country illegally,
and says, “Continuing to impose criminal misdemeanor penalties for vending
disproportionately affects, and unfairly punishes, undocumented immigrants, and
could potentially put them at risk for deportation.”