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Trial Update: City of Los Angeles Faces Final Trial Postponement in Street Vendor Lawsuit

Amid Ongoing Negotiations, City Council Introduces Motion to Address Harassment by Street Vending Enforcement Agency

LOS ANGELES, CA, MAY 15, 2024 – The non-profit legal team and plaintiffs in Community Power Collective v. City of Los Angeles released the following joint statement today:

“In December 2022, vendor plaintiffs Merlín Alvarado and Ruth Monroy, along with three community empowerment organizations—Community Power Collective, East LA Community Corporation & Inclusive Action for the City—filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, challenging a number of regulations in their Sidewalk Vending Ordinance. Our lawsuit alleges that these regulations violate a 2018 state law—SB 946—that legalized sidewalk vending statewide.

“The goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that the City of Los Angeles follows state law, repeals illegal policies that it previously enacted, and makes vendors whole who have been harassed with citations pursuant to clearly illegal policies. We have already successfully forced the City to repeal its most harmful policies so that vendors will not be cited for operating their businesses in lucrative pedestrian areas. However, to ensure that the City fully addresses its obligation to make those harmed by its actions whole, we have agreed to continue negotiations and will postpone our trial date until July 16, 2024. The Judge overseeing this case stated that this is the last continuance he will grant.

“The lawsuit also includes several references to harassment by Bureau of Street Services (BSS) officers, which have not only continued but tragically increased since filing our lawsuit over 18 months ago.  We are pleased to see that the City introduced a motion last Friday to consider several measures to ensure that BSS does not continue to violate its own regulations and that it treats street vendors with respect.

However, the City has still not addressed the past harm it has caused hundreds of low-income vendors. While we have reached high-level agreement with the City of Los Angeles on changing certain sidewalk vending regulations and addressing certain citations issued to sidewalk vendors, the City has yet to agree to a comprehensive plan that will enact these changes and remedies effectively. Reaching a potential settlement agreement is an urgent issue—for one because all parties involved continue to invest time and resources in this process, but more importantly because street vendors will continue to experience state-sanctioned harm and harassment until these issues are resolved.

“If a satisfactory resolution between the parties cannot be reached by July 16, the sidewalk vendors, vendor advocates, and their counsel are fully prepared to take our case to trial and ask a judge to order the City to fully comply with state law and to make vendors whole.

“Whether through settlement or in court, we are confident that this lawsuit will result in the restoration of vendor rights in the City of Los Angeles and will serve as a signal to other jurisdictions that they cannot arbitrarily exclude vendors from their local economy.

“We appreciate your understanding and support as we proceed with these negotiations for the rights and fair treatment of our street vendor community. Due to the confidential nature of these discussions, we are unable to share further details at this time.

The plaintiffs are represented by Arnold and Porter, a private, worldwide law firm, providing pro bono co-counsel support, and the nonprofit law firms, Public Counsel and Western Center on Law & Poverty.

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For media inquiries, email Josh here.

Public Counsel: Public Counsel is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to advancing civil rights and racial and economic justice, as well as to amplifying the power of our clients through comprehensive legal advocacy. Founded on and strengthened by a pro bono legal service model, our staff and volunteers

seek justice through direct legal services, promote healthy and resilient communities through education and outreach, and support community-led efforts to transform unjust systems through litigation and policy advocacy in and beyond Los Angeles.

Arnold & Porter: Arnold & Porter combines sophisticated regulatory, litigation, and transactional capabilities to resolve clients’ most complex issues. With over 1,000 lawyers practicing in 15 offices worldwide, we offer deep industry experience and an integrated approach that spans more than 40 practice areas. Through multidisciplinary collaboration and focused industry experience, we provide innovative and effective solutions to mitigate risks, address challenges, and achieve successful outcomes.

Western Center on Law & Poverty: Fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Community Power Collective: Community Power Collective builds power with low-income workers and tenants through transformative organizing to win economic justice, community control of land and housing, and to propagate systems of cooperation in Boyle Heights and the greater LA region.

East LA Community Corporation: ELACC is a Boyle Heights-based community development corporation that uses an equitable development model to engage residents traditionally left out of decision-making processes. In addition to affordable housing, they provide financial capability services through their Community Wealth department, which supports sidewalk vendors with free tax preparation, financial coaching, Technical Assistance, and social loans. ELACC is co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign (LASVC) and has worked with micro-entrepreneurs for over a decade.Inclusive Action for the City: Inclusive Action for the City (IAC) is a Community Development Financial Institution and nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles whose mission is to bring people together to build strong local economies that uplift low-income urban communities through advocacy and transformative economic development initiatives. IAC serves the community through policy advocacy, research, consulting services, business coaching, and a lending program, among other efforts. IAC is a co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign and has worked with street vendors and other small business owners for more than 10 years.