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LA city council making life harder for food vendors

Evie Fordham

Advocates for Los Angeles street vendors speaking out after the city council voted to nearly double permit fees from $291 to $541 in November.

"As an Angeleno and academic, I’m appalled by the Los Angeles City Council's recent approval of a street vendor permit fee of $541 (starting July 1, 2020) under the city’s 'Sidewalk and Park Vending Program,'" Alvaro Huerta, who teaches urban planning at Cal Poly Pomona, wrote in an op-ed this week.

The city is considering how to regulate street vendors after former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act in late 2018, ending criminal penalties for sidewalk vendors but also requiring local government to license and regulate them. The vendors sell food including corn and shaved ice.

Huerta cited a 2015 report by the Economic Roundtable that found street vendors generate about $204 a week in revenue — meaning they'd need to work for about two and a half weeks to pay for the permit.

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"All of these so-called leaders should be ashamed of themselves!" Huerta wrote, referring to the city council. "It's time for city leaders to protect the streets where Mexican and Central American immigrants dominate this informal labor niche, instead of punishing them in an already competitive and hostile city for the marginalized."

One story painted Councilmember John Lee, the lone Republican on the city council, as going after the sidewalk vendors. However, 12 of his fellow councilmembers voted to nearly double the permit fees.

Lee wants to give more flexibility to cities and counties to enforce the new rules.

"Everyone deserves to earn an honest living, but not at the expense of public health and safety," Lee wrote on Facebook last week. "Yesterday, I introduced a motion asking the state legislature to amend the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act of 2018. We need to be able to protect and support our brick-and-mortar businesses AND the street vendors who abide by the new regulations."

FOX Business' inquiry to Lee was not returned at the time of publication.

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