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LA moves closer to legalizing street vending

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City leaders are worried vendors will be targeted in Trump deportation efforts

Vendor cart in foreground in Fashion District Steven Bevacqua | Curbed LA Flickr Pool

LA is one step closer to legalizing street vending after a City Council committee unanimously approved a motion Monday asking the city attorney to draft an ordinance to be considered by the full council in the coming year.

Street vending, which is effectively banned throughout the city right now, has become a prominent concern of the council in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s surprising presidential win.

In a policy letter, council members Curren Price, Joe Buscaino, and Jose Huizar noted that the president-elect’s promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants—particularly those with criminal records—give the council “a moral imperative to decriminalize vending by removing all misdemeanor penalties.”

At Monday’s meeting of the Public Works & Gang Reduction Committee, councilmember David Ryu introduced an amendment to the motion adding an amnesty program for vendors previously hit with misdemeanor charges for selling merchandise on sidewalks and streets.

The proposed ordinance would create a permitting system for vendors and allow individual neighborhoods to decide on limitations for where and when vendors can operate.

“For the past three years, I have worked tirelessly to create a sidewalk vending policy that is mindful and considerate to all Angelenos,” said Price after the vote. “What we see today is a fair and balanced approach to regulating an industry that has been part of the underground economy for so long.”

The committee’s decision drew praise from members of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign, a coalition of vendors and other local groups.

“For the first time I feel that the City Council is recognizing our contribution to the City,” said Merced Sanchez, a leader within the organization and vendor in the Piñata District. “We hope to be able to operate outside of the shadows, and without the fear of heavy fines and equipment confiscation.”