New permit system could bring street vending to Los Angeles
Two Los Angeles City Council committees are expected to examine a plan Wednesday to create a regulated permit system for street vending, which would mean that Los Angeles will cease to be the only major city that bans the practice.
The City Council in February voted to stop making street vending punishable with a misdemeanor criminal charge, although it is being enforced through citations as the council works on the permit system for the industry.
The proposal for the system was drafted by the chief legislative analyst and is scheduled to be discussed Wednesday afternoon at a joint meeting of the Economic Development Committee and the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee.
Some of the permitting proposals that were approved by the council for consideration and contained in the CLA report — such as limiting vendors to two per block in many locations — are controversial and opposed by some vendors, although there has been wide support in the industry for the council’s move to decriminalize street vending.
The CLA report outlines a plan to establish criteria that would create a list of additional “non-vending” areas that may include city alleys, city- owned property and create a process for certain streets to be named “non- vending” areas by City Council action.
The estimated cost for potential enforcement models contained in the report could range between $3.37 million to $5.87 million, and it also says that to recover the cost with certificate of operation fees of $125, between 26,950 and 46,885 certificates would have to be issued.
The report also estimates that the first year of operation for legalized street vending could cost a vendor between $2,932 and $21,861 in overhead due to equipment purchases, fees, permits, insurance, and inspection costs, although it recommends a number of ways to reduce the cost to vendors, including exploring the feasibility of contracting with a manufacturer that would produce carts that have already received plan-check approval from the county.
The report also recommends that once the total number of available vending locations has been determined by the council, that the Economic and Workforce Development Department be instructed to develop a lottery system that reserves a percentage of the certificates of operation for disadvantaged individuals.
The report recommends banning vending near schools unless only fruits and vegetables are being sold, and also banning it near popular venues like Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl.
One of the motivations for the City Council to legalize street vending and create the permit system was concern that leveling misdemeanor criminal charges at vendors could make some undocumented immigrants a target for deportation.
“I think the city of L.A. and this council has come a long way in terms of our view of street vendors. A few years ago, I didn’t think we would be having this conversation,” Councilman Jose Huizar said in February.
“But the environment is correct — whether it’s the environment nationally or here locally — acknowledging the benefits that street vendors bring to us and the acknowledgment that we should bring them out of the shadows to contribute to the economy,” he said.
The “national environment” Huizar alluded to was President Donald Trump’s stated intention to increase deportations of immigrants in the country illegally.
—City News Service