A Los Angeles City Council committee Monday advanced a proposed sidewalk vending ordinance, but rejected provision that would have given nearby brick-and-mortar business owners the power to veto vendor licenses.
The business veto had been strongly opposed by many vendors and led seven women from the LA Street Vendor Campaign to be arrested outside City Hall last month during a protest where they blocked traffic.
Instead of the veto power, the Economic Development Committee moved forward with a plan that would establish a formal hearing process that would allow adjacent property owners to voice concerns and submit appeals to proposed sidewalk vendors based on health and safety issues.
"While it is reasonable to notify property owners adjacent to proposed vending locations, I am adamantly opposed to giving an individual control over who can obtain a permit and ultimately participate in the city's sidewalk vending program," said Councilman Curren Price, who chairs the committee and first introduced a motion to create a sidewalk vending policy in 2013, along with Councilman Jose Huizar.
"By creating a formal appeals process, we are allowing businesses the opportunity to weigh in, while also protecting the vendors from possible extortion," he said.
The committee approved a comprehensive sidewalk vending program that would fully regulate the new industry. Los Angeles is the only major city in America that outlaws all sidewalk vending, although it decriminalized the practice last year in favor of issuing citations while the council develops a permitting process.
The regulations approved by the committee would limit many blocks to two vendors, but would allow for the creation of special vending zones where more would be allowed or other areas where it could be banned, such as near Dodger Stadium.
The proposal now goes before the full City Council on Tuesday, and if approved, a full program could be fully operational in 2019.
"Today's vote allows us to find the middle ground that we have been seeking since Councilmember Price and I introduced this motion in 2013," Huizar said. "And what was true in 2013 is still true today: we have a predominantly immigrant, low-income workforce who desperately want us to regulate them so they can come out of the shadows and feed their families. We should help them do just that, while ensuring we have proper regulation. What we have right now does not work and, let's be clear, that futility will continue if we cannot vote on a sensible proposal in City Council on Tuesday."
Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, in February introduced legislation that would prohibit making sidewalk vending a crime across the state and allow local governments to regulate sidewalk vending if they create a permit process.