There is a growing lack of traditional employment opportunities in Boyle Heights and all over the City of Los Angeles, leaving people who are willing and able to work with fewer options. With few prospects for employment, low-income residents are turning to street vending as a way to earn a living. The need to work in this underground economy grows more and more as chronic unemployment and lack of economic opportunities persist.
Conservative figures estimate that there are over 10,000 street vendors operating on the sidewalks of Los Angeles. Although street vending is a central part of Los Angeles culture and economy, government agencies continue to enforce anti-street vending laws throughout the city. Los Angeles Municipal Code 42.00(b) bans the use of sidewalks for food vending, imposing fines of up to $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail on street vendors, regardless of their compliance with LA County Health Department’s food preparation standards. The current approach to enforcement stretches agencies thin, wastes millions of tax-payer dollars each year, and does little to regulate vending.
The Community Response
ELACC, community residents, and partner organizations have now come together to form the “Legalize Street Vending Coalition” to push the Los Angeles City Council to implement a policy that will provide a licensing process for vendors to sell foods without the fear criminalization. The coalition has already conducted numerous town halls throughout Los Angeles neighborhoods where there is a high concentration of street vendors, in order to begin educating and engaging them on what the City’s first comprehensive vending policy could look like.
The only way to solve the street vending problem is for agencies, governing bodies and community organizations to work together to legalize street vending in the City and work toward paths of legalization that takes into consideration the needs of the community that we live in. The legalization of street vending is a viable bottom-up economic development strategy that will increase entrepreneurship opportunities as well as generate an increase in tax revenue for the city.
Our campaign goals
- The legalization of food vending on sidewalks in Los Angeles
- Healthy food incentives for entrepreneurs who are committed to selling healthy food as part of their business
- Develop a strong community-based, nonprofit infrastructure that supports these entrepreneurs.
- Build constructive relationships with City departments that support street vendors and helps them find ways to conduct business within the law
- Create spaces for vendors to work legitimately at farmers markets in their communities. This supports the vendors in taking a step towards legitimate employment and small business entrepreneurship.
- Define areas where vendors can operate through the Boyle Heights New Community Plan Update.
How this changes lives?
Street vendors are hardworking people striving to create a better life for their families and themselves. The legalization of street vending in throughout the City will help local vendors with few employment options to earn an honest living and provide food, clothing and shelter for their families.
For more information contact Janet Favela at 323-604-1960 or email.