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Street vendors no longer banned from popular tourist spots in Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Councilmembers voted to rescind a ban that prevent street vendors from working outside some of Los Angeles' most popular tourist spots on Tuesday. 

The ban went into place in 2018, preventing street vendors from selling goods at places like Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

The new ordinance is expected to take effect in March, city officials said at Tuesday's meeting, unanimously voting to amend the current vending laws in place. 

"I think what we're voting on is going to reflect the personal experiences of those street vendors and how they experience the city of Los Angeles," said Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez prior to the council vote. 

He noted how personal the issue was to him, having grown up with parents who were street vendors, attending city council meetings with them years ago as they fought for the support of city leaders. 

"We see you. We value your hard work and what you bring to the city," Soto-Martinez said. "And hopefully, we will continue to work with the folks that are most affected by this as we continue to evolve the ordinance."

Overall, the "blanket bans" will be removed from seven zones where they were previously unable to offer their services, including: the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Bowl, Arena and LA Live, Dodger Stadium, Universal Studios and City Walk, El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument and Exposition Park. 

Council President Paul Krekorian offered a similar story to Soto-Martinez's during the meeting. 

"Street vending often provides new immigrants an opportunity to become entrepreneurs," he said. "I know this personally because my grandfather sold melons on Sunset Boulevard when he first came to this country."

Street vendors will be required to follow safety and health regulations that are in place, and face tickets if they violate those rules. 

Valerie Flores, the Chief Assistant City Attorney, says that councilmembers could again enact vending restrictions in the future in specific areas, but that it would require an ordinance and provide specific findings that justify their decision. 

"In general this ordinance will ensure that vending is permitted to the greatest extent possible in the city, and only where health or safety findings can be made will bending be restricted," Flores said. 

Soto-Martinez and Krekorian were joined by other councilmembers in Curren Price, Nithya Raman and John Lee in Oct. 2023 when they introduced the motion to remove the "no street vending zones."

They presented the motion in response to a lawsuit filed against the city claiming that the rights of street vendors were allegedly violated by the ban, which they did not believe was in compliance with state law. 

Non-profit law firm Public Counsel is representing the Community Power Collective, East LA Community Corporation and Inclusive Action for the City in the ongoing lawsuit against the city. 

A member with Community Power Collective spoke during the meeting's public comment, saying that their group supported the ordinance, but emphasized that the lawsuit will continue despite the decision.

"We have no assurances, and based on recent history, we have no trust," said Community Power Collective's Sergio Jimenez. "We are also dismayed that the city has offered nothing to repair the deep harms caused by the hundreds of citations, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines imposed on low-income immigrant families due to the unlawful no vending zones. ... We're here to tell you that this ordinance is important and necessary, but also to remind you that the job is not done."

Former Governor Jerry Brown signed the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act in 2018, decriminalizing street vending in California. However, the bill required that vendors operate out of a food truck or act as a catering business, rather than utilizing a stand or a pushcart. 

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 972, which made state regulations easier on street vendors who sell food. The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office says that the Bureau of Street Services will be the lead agency to set regulations for street vending, as the state law does not specifically lay out what constitutes health and safety concerns. 

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