Food street vendors are a common sight in cities across the nation. Selling everything from tamales and hot dogs to halal and ice cream, they're more than just a convenient way to get food while on the go in populated areas. For the vendors, its often their primary source of income and how they aim to feed their families.
Up until today, Los Angeles was the only major American city to enforce criminal penalties for street vending, according to Fox 11 Los Angeles. That changed with a groundbreaking vote in the Los Angeles City Council Chambers earlier this afternoon.
ABC7 reports that an ordinance to decriminalize street vending in Los Angeles was passed by an overwhelming 11-2 vote, allowing for the creation of a program to regulate street vendors with permits enforced by fines and property seizure.
Councilman José Huizar, one of the original writers of the ordinance, voiced his support for its passage with a powerful statement:
"We cannot continue to allow an unregulated system that penalizes hard-working, mostly immigrant vendors with possible criminal misdemeanor charges, particularly in the current political environment. These people are not asking for a handout, they are asking for an opportunity to lift themselves up and provide for their families."
Fortunately, thanks to the Los Angeles City Council, the 10,000 food vendors and 40,000 other vendors that sell their goods on the sidewalk now have the chance to make a living without facing criminal misdemeanor charges.
While the program to regulate street vending will take some time to develop and implement, a new ordinance that clears the Department of Public Works to issue street vendor permits will be written once those regulations are set in stone.
We will have to wait for truly legal street vending in LA for a little while longer, but this is a MASSIVE step forward in making our favorite street carts a legal and powerful presence in the LA food scene.