A judge indicated Wednesday he is inclined to allow a coalition of street vendors suing the city of Los Angeles over its no-vending zones to proceed with a legal challenge to the ordinance.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant stated in a tentative ruling that he is leaning toward overruling the city’s first legal challenge to the petition brought Dec. 7 by three community groups — Community Power Collective, East Los Angeles Community Corp. and Inclusive Action for the City — and two sidewalk vendors, Merlin Alvarado and Ruth Monroy.

Chalfant is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday before issuing a final decision.

The petition challenges the city’s “no-vending zones” ordinance that prohibits sidewalk food sales within 500 feet of many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods and tourist destinations, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The city maintains that allowing sidewalk vending in tourist areas and sports venues causes overcrowding that leads to pedestrians walking in the street.

The petitioners allege that no-vending zones conflict with SB 946, the 2018 California law that decriminalized street vending.

The coalition and the vendors say that in arguing that sidewalk sales in the targeted venues causes pedestrians to walk in the street, the city does not offer data demonstrating when and where pedestrians have encroached on the roadway, whether sidewalk vending is the cause or whether alternatives to a vending ban have been considered.

According to Chalfant’s tentative ruling, the city has not shown that its restrictions are directly related to objective health, safety or welfare concerns. He further said the city does not explain why the seven no-vendor locations were chosen, what overcrowding has occurred at those locations, why the 500-foot barrier was selected and whether sidewalk vending is directly related to the concerns stated.

“SB 946 precludes the city from adopting these restrictions without meeting its criteria and the court cannot ascertain whether the city has complied without such evidence,” Chalfant wrote.

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