Monday, February 6, 2017

Los Angeles street vendors move forward towards legalization

Note: Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN) authored this blog. Rudy is also Chair of the Investing in Place Advisory Board. Header image taken by Rudy Espinoza.

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This past week, the City Council voted to support immigrants and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles.

After years of advocacy, and over 3 years of a motion making its way through Council committees, the City Council heard a general framework and voted in favor of street vendors with two important motions.

The first motion instructs the City Attorney to work expeditiously to decriminalize street vending, especially in light of threats from the White House to deport undocumented immigrants who commit crimes.

The second motion instructs the City Attorney to begin drafting an ordinance that will establish a legal permit system for street vending in Los Angeles. You can follow the City Clerk file on this issue here.

We expect the decriminalization aspect of this work to happen quickly (hopefully in the next couple of weeks), while the development of the permit system will occur over the next few months. Our hope is that a new permit system will be in place by 2018.

This progress is a testament to the power of coalitions working together. I’m so appreciative of the support of our allies and we’re grateful for the partners that we’ve worked alongside with for years (shout out to the East LA Community Corporation, Public Counsel, the LA Food Policy Counsel and the entire LA Street Vendor Campaign!)

For us, a citywide permit system will not only support the immigrants in our city, but it will facilitate more entrepreneurism, create jobs, and make our streets safer.

Over the next few months, we’ll be continuing our advocacy to ensure that the policy developed takes into account the experiences of street vendors, brick-and-mortar businesses, and pedestrians on the street. We have some concerns which include an idea to require vendors to get permission from an adjacent brick-and-mortar business that could be exploitative, and an arbitrary cap on vendors per block that doesn’t take into account the diversity of our built environment.

We have an amazing opportunity to develop a street vendor program that is the best in the country. Los Angeles leads on many issues; it should also lead by developing a system that embraces its entrepreneurs, helps them get out of poverty, and invites them to not only contribute to our economy but also make our streets vibrant for the benefit of everyone.


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