Another Call for the Legalization of Los Angeles Street Vendors

Mark Vallianatos outlines the legal history and vehemently supports Los Angeles' estimated 10,000 street vendors selling everything from fruits to frozen treats.

October 16, 2014, 9:00 AM PDT

By Maayan Dembo @DJ_Mayjahn

In a recent The Los Angeles Times op-ed, Occidental College instructor and policy director of the Urban and Environmental Policy program Mark Vallianatos discusses the need for the city of Los Angeles to adopt a permit system allowing vendors to sell goods in sidewalks and parks. Indeed, Los Angeles is full of diverse cultures, each with their own unique dish and street food. However, according to Vallianatos, Los Angeles "is also the only one of the nation's 10 largest cities to completely outlaw sidewalk vending. At a time when the city is finally trying to develop a more vibrant urban core and make its streets more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists, the ban needs to be lifted."

Indeed, this lack of citywide permitting system is detrimental to the city, as it "deprives the city of tax revenue and licensing fees. And it potentially puts the public at risk, because vendors selling food on the black market have little incentive to familiarize themselves with and adhere to health codes."

Despite the city cracking down in 1980 on street vending, and then establishing certain zones in 1994, Vallianatos argues that "[i]t's time to create a citywide permit system to allow vendors to sell on sidewalks and in parks, with rules to allow pedestrian passage, to encourage safe and nutritious food and to collect sales taxes to help city finances. The city has considered enacting such a law a number of times but has not done so. And currently, the City Council is considering cracking down harder on vendors in public parks."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 in The Los Angeles Times

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