L.A. Street Sellers Outlawed No More

For over a century, street vendors have been a forbidden fixture of the city’s kaleidoscopic landscape. Now, as part of California’s push to protect undocumented immigrants, the city has legalized sidewalk vending.

Comments: 38

  1. "Officials have estimated that there are 50,000 street vendors in Los Angeles, and selling on the city’s sidewalks is often the first profession for newly arrived immigrants." What's the second profession?

  2. The eir second profession is often housecleaning, landscaping, car washing, delivery services, janitorial work......then their children become teachers, firefighters, police, businesspeople, Nobel Laureates, etc. Just like all immigrants.

  3. This is failure of public policy on many levels. The nation should not be letting in people whose sole skill to offer is street vending.

  4. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I thought we wanted to discourage illegal immigration, yet everywhere I look the laws are changing to aid illegal immigrants. This is frustrating.

  5. Unfortunately the area around MacArthur Park is a complete dump. The sheer amount of trash in the streets is astounding. I'm all for protecting immigrants, but do not treat our city like a garbage dump.

  6. Street vendors can add welcome vibrancy and even safety in cities. But without basic regulations they can become serious nuisances. When the vendors sell knock-off clothing and handbags, spreading out on blankets that block the sidewalks, it's a problem. And unless street vendors pay taxes like their brick and mortar competitors, they have an unfair advantage. I wish the authors of the article had included more about the details of this decriminalization.

  7. Will these businesses be subject to same regulations, inspections and taxes as other businesses that are not located on a sidewalk? I certainly hope so, because otherwise this is just unfair.

  8. I'm glad we don't have this in NY, the streets are crowded enough.

  9. Food safety? Are there health inspections of these food stands?

  10. It's gonna be tough being a pedestrian.

  11. Epic failure of the federal, state and local governments.

  12. So very human and so very beautiful. This is healthy natural human progress.

  13. You guys just opened a huge Pandora box here .. This is an ill conceived idea and not thought through at all. Didn't all these undocumented immigrant worker sellers and their families flee their native lands in order to escape gangs? What about the scores of LA Gangs who regularly extort money from these street sellers? What is the city going to do about that? Do we accept racketeering as part of their culture and let this criminal enterprise continue? Wouldn't the money they pay the gangs better serve the community they sell to? This is will devolve into a disgusting, unsanitary mess..

  14. Does the Health department inspect and issue citations or grades?

  15. Are these vendors even required to get permits? Because if you want to open a legitimate restaurant there's all sorts of requirements that need to be met, not to mention health code standards. If you want to film in this city on the sidewalk it requires a permit that's also pretty pricey. Should I even bother asking if they pay taxes? Meanwhile there's a homeless crisis here in LA and housing is becoming more scarce and unaffordable but, yes, let's keep encouraging illegal immigrants to come here to be food vendors. This is why large swaths of this city look like a developing country.

  16. As a native Angelino, I say Hallelujah! I used to have to drive 400 miles into Mexico to get an authentic fish taco, tamale or Mexican ceramics. Now they come to us. I only wish the vendors would move right into my WASPY neighborhood so I don't have to drive to them. Maybe now they will.

  17. Thank you for printing this story! This is one of the most refreshing news stories I have read in some time, a truly welcome and timely antidote to the craven hysteria oozing down Pennsylvania Ave. Kudos to L.A., kudos to Jerry Brown and long live cultural diversity and innovation! This is entrepreneurship at its best, enriching our communities (country) while bolstering our economy from the ground up.

  18. Do they pay taxes? Do they need city permits? What of the other vendors in L.A. that have been doing it legally and struggling to maintain a small business? Can they just say, "Guess I don't need to pay for that anymore." I'd really like to know the economic fallout from this.

  19. I am a transplanted east coaster and love this city deeply. The street vendors are some of my favorite parts of my city. In a time where every single corner needs to be Starbucks, McDonalds, Walmart and Chipotle, its nice to have some originality and soul. The tapestry of people and cultures is what made this country great and what makes this city great. Now please finish the subway in my lifetime!!

  20. There is no mention if they pay taxes as the brick and mortar food establishments do.

  21. Is it any wonder why the restaurant owners who pay taxes, workers comp and are subject to health inspections are angered by this. Why bother when the street vendor can just set up shop right in front of their storefront and not have to do any of that? Ridiculous. Once again, the person who plays by the rules is punished in favor of the person who doesn't.

  22. This is an abdication of journalism in the name of political correctness. Sidewalk vending is destabilizing. It devastates landlords and their paying tenants. It is messy, polluting, and dangerous to pedestrians and the workers themselves. Rich liberals will never see these things and naturally go along with what sounds kind. But it isn't.

  23. Are the street vendors subject to the same health and sanitation controls as restaurants, or has that been abandoned in favor of immigrant rights?

  24. Great! Let's turn into the places that these people have left. No thanks.

  25. Another justification to avoid travelling to the LEFT coast. CA does not belong in the USA. The majority of the state government is demolishing a former great state. Once the border wall/barrier is approved, request should be made to extend it north to Canada as the entire left coast is beyond reason.

  26. do these vendors meet codes. are their foods prepared and kept up to code? is this not a public health threat given that anybody can sell any sort of food on the street without meeting some sort of health standard or regulation. e.coli/salmonella anyone? i find it crazy. we have a set of laws for citizens and a different set of laws (which are way more lax) for immigrants. are their sales taxed. how do local mom and pop restaurants, who have to meet code and regulations, compete? we are in bizzaro land.

  27. sounds like California wants to either create new laws or pick and choose from the existling laws. But they ahve a realy problem with obeying US laws in immigrations. Laws a not a menu from which you pick and choose what one you want to obey. The Federal Government needs to Punish California for its failure to obey ALL the laws of the US.

  28. I lived and worked eight years in Central America and the Carribean, another four in Latin America and have since worked in the region an additional 15 years. Now comes California embracing the tickey tackey detritus of the very culture that immigrant Latinos fled, but once here, they flip-flopped to embrace. I predict bastante food poisoning, at a minimum.

  29. As long as the vendors are here legally, I see no problem.

  30. The de facto border with Mexico has been moved a couple of hundred miles north, thanks to an expensive but incompetent Federal government. How would you like to be an established restaurant, or shop, paying high rent for a choice location, then have to watch street vendors set up right in front? Where are the Feds?! They should bring charges against the politicians in these sanctuary jurisdictions. It is a felony to "Harbor" illegal "immigrants", to "Conspire to aid or abet", and to "Induce illegal residency". https://www.justice.gov/jm/criminal-resource-manual-1907-title-8-usc-1324a-offenses This is totally lawless behavior, as egregious as what was done in the old South to prevent the application of civil rights laws.

  31. This is an unfortunate development for residents of Los Angeles. Street vending drags down the quality of life by bringing trash and unsanitary conditions that comes with turning sidewalks into open air markets. Combined with the totally uncontrolled homeless problem, huge swatches of Los Angeles that is already neglected by the City Hall will become even more trashed and dilapidated. At the heart of this is, if course, race and class, but not in the way the article implies. There are no homeless tents nor sidewalk vending in places such as Hancock Park, Hollywood Hills, and the Financial District where wealthy Angelenos live and work. However, there will be no peace and quiet in crowed neighborhoods where working class Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans live. Sidewalk vending will be especially pernicious in mixed neighborhoods that are in pockets of West LA, Mid-City, and South Los Angeles where middle-class of all races work hard to hold onto their quality of life and raise their children as Los Angeles simultaneously undergoes gentrification and the gutting of middle class. It is in these neighborhoods that street vendors will decimate the last remaining quality of life and sense of dignity as these vendors blast music to go with food prepared without sanitation, hawk recycled clothes and household items spread out on sidewalks, and leave trash and rotting food on the streets. This is a recipe for backlash politics and increased racial strain.

  32. As an ex-NYer, and having traveled - and all immigration issues aside - what kind of City is a CITY that doesn't have people (of any status) selling stuff on the street!!!? An utterly BORING one. (Why I don't like L.A.. Walking is another very "city" thing they don't get out there.) Selling on the street is a feature of cities since cities have been cities. There were women selling "Hot Corn" in early 1800's NY. The cries of street vendors were a fixture of Dicken's London. It's what cities do.

  33. Excellent article, brilliant and ingenious formatting!

  34. I was raised and educated and birthed my children in Los Angeles, spanning the late 40's to when I moved to Hawaii in the mid 80's. When I speak of LA the number one thing I miss is AUTHENTIC ethnic food and especially local latino cuisines. Reading this essay about the legalization of street vending I feel proud to be an Angelino and look forward to my next trip 'home' to go downtown to enjoy a great meal. I also am feeling pride as a Californian fighting what's happening in our new culture of exclusion. We are all from immigrant families!

  35. legalized how...a permit, license? no mention made here. unrestricted commerce, no taxes, no proof of anything? public health? legal trafficking in goods? much less citizenship? this piece seems rather like an endorsement than actual reporting.

  36. Will this be regulated? Will this be taxed? Does this present a further threat to legitimate business?

  37. I have nothing against immigrants, they improve the overall economy by doing a lot of work that lazy white folks no longer seem to be interested in. But street vendors? Do they pay taxes? What sort of taxes? Certainly not property taxes, which would be indirectly paid by any business leasing commercial space. Sales taxes? Who regulates them? Restaurants in Los Angeles get inspected regularly and issued grades re health and safety. For those vendors grilling meats, not a fan of walking past the odor. Just like I'm not a fan of the ubiquitous odor of French fries when one walks past a McDonald's. At least with restaurants, the odor is mostly avoidable because their doors are closed. For residents of NYC that might laugh at this notion with the omnipresence of vendors hawking pretzels and hot dogs, the smell of grilled meat is far stronger and noxious. Folks should think this one through. Would you eat at a restaurant that didn't undergo regular inspections? Just wait until there's a hepatitis or E. coli outbreak traced back to these street vendors . . .

  38. In January 17, 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution effectively established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States by declaring the production, transport, and sale of alcohol illegal. However, Americans wanted to drink booze so the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Twenty-first Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933. It is unique among the 27 amendments of the U.S. Constitution for being the only one to repeal a prior amendment and to have been ratified by state ratifying conventions. Supreme court legalizes recreational marijuana, and soon to follow recreational heroin and recreational cocaine. Americans want more drugs and alcohol. Free street sellers, do whatever you wish because the constitution says that you can do whatever you wish, no matter if you want is illegal, not right, immoral, or indecent.