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Will Los Angeles Legalize Street Vending?

The $500 million underground street vending economy in Los Angeles took a step closer toward legalization on Tuesday.
December 5, 2014, 8am PST | Maayan Dembo | @DJ_Mayjahn
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On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council Committee on Economic Development held a hearing on creating a framework for legalizing street vending. Street vending in Los Angeles is currently outlawed, and according to the organization backing the ordinance, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign, "L.A. stands alone among the 10 biggest U.S. cities in totally outlawing the practice. The Bureau of Street Services hands out hundreds of citations to street vendors annually, each of which can result in fines of as much as $1,000 and jail time. Police arrested more than 1,200 street vendors last year, according to a city report."

As Emily Alpert Reyes reports for the Los Angeles Times, a fierce debate surrounds the issue of whether or not to legalize this underground economy. Street vending supporters "see legalization as an economic boon to the city and a lifeline to honest entrepreneurs, while critics worry about trash, congestion and a squeeze on bricks-and-mortar businesses."

Indeed, some opponents like the Studio City Neighborhood Council are concerned that "legalizing street vending will clog up and dirty sidewalks, jeopardize community health and safety, and create unfair competition for local businesses that face higher costs."

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Published on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 in Los Angeles Times
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