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Home | Newsroom | Miscellaneous | LA Street Vendors Trial Postponed: What Comes Next

LA Street Vendors Trial Postponed: What Comes Next

Signs, people, various stands and a red food truck line a city sidewalk.Fruit and hot dog vendor Edgar Suy, center, protests on Hollywood Boulevard against the city’s no-vending zones. His sign reads “Just laws regardless of race and color.”
(Leslie Berestein Rojas/LAist)

No trial. At least for now as street vendors involved in a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles are trying to reach a settlement. The trial was scheduled to begin on Thursday.

Last week, the L.A. City Council voted to do away with no-vending zones. Seven of eight no-vending zones are now OK for vendors to work in. The eighth one in Venice Beach will continue to have restrictions that ban street vending unless it’s tied to first amendment rights.

The street vendors are seeking the reimbursement of any citations paid where the citation was issued for vending in the no-vending zones. They are also asking the city to do away with remaining 500-foot buffer no-vending zones that can be set up around schools, farmers’ markets, and swap meets.

“We hope to reach a resolution on the other regulations we challenge in the lawsuit (mainly the 500-foot buffer zones around schools, swap meets, farmers markets, etc.) and erasure of all of the citations issued for violating these regulations and the no vending zone regulations,” an attorney for the plaintiffs said.

Sidewalk vending was legalized citywide four years ago, but the no-vending zones remained in place until last week.

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

Attorney Katie McKeon of Public Counsel, one of the attorneys representing the vendors, said according to the law, “you need to have an objective health, safety or welfare concern that justifies those restrictions or bans. The city has failed to provide any real justification or evidence justifying these bans.”

If no resolution is reached, the trial will continue starting on April 4.

A crowd of people on a city sidewalk hold brightly colored protest signs. Street vendors protesting on Hollywood Boulevard. The blue sign reads, “We are vendors, not criminals” and the orange sign reads, “No barriers to street vending.”
(Leslie Berestein Rojas /  LAist)

On the county level, L.A. County supervisors gave a unanimous final nod last week to two measures that will take effect in early March. The county is not involved in the lawsuit.

One measure applies to street food vendors under the auspices of the county health department, who for years have had trouble obtaining needed county health permits. Until recently, the state’s retail food code was geared toward larger mobile food operations, like food trucks, and not small carts. Health permit fees for these street vendors will range from $309 for “low-risk” vendors selling packaged foods to $1,186 for “high-risk” vendors preparing and selling hot food items. To that end, supervisors approved a related motion from Supervisor Hilda Solis that would make low-income street vendors in unincorporated county areas eligible for a 75% fee subsidy.

The board also voted on a formal plan to regulate street vendors in unincorporated areas. Unlike in the city of Los Angeles, the county so far has not had an official program with which to regulate street vendors in unincorporated county zones, like busy East L.A. The ordinance sets official rules for these vendors, including a $604 annual registration fee. This fee would be subsidized the first year by the county’s Department of Economic Opportunity, and partially subsidized after that.