The Battle to Curtail LA's Thriving Street Vending Scene

Across the city, in areas as diverse as tourist friendly Venice Beach and the largely immigrant community of Westlake, local officials are leading the charge to crack down on illicit street vending.
January 10, 2012, 2pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Jennifer Medina reports that "A new ordinance that goes into effect on Jan. 20 is intended to forbid only those who are selling items that could be considered to have utilitarian value - that means art is allowed but T-shirts are not."

In immigrant neighborhoods such as Westlake, "where markets acted as a kind of cultural center for the community" and street vendors have helped bring vibrancy and activity to the streets, the crackdown can be seen as a clash of cultures.

Efforts to corral the vendors into a city-sponsored weekend market, and its attendant $500 permit fee, have been met with trepidation.

"They can chase me wherever they want, I'll go and hide someplace for a few minutes and then I will come back again," said Marta Cortez, 43, who has sold fruit and homemade hot chocolate on the street almost since the day she arrived here from El Salvador nearly two decades ago. "This is how I make money for my family. If I go to a new market where I can only sell on the weekends, how can I have enough to give my children food to eat?"

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Published on Monday, January 9, 2012 in New York Times
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