Palisades Business Improvement District Board Opposes Street Vendors

By Sue Pascoe
Editor

At its Jan. 11 meeting, the Pacific Palisades Business Improvement District (BID) board voted to send a letter to Councilman Mike Bonin, seeking an exemption from the proposed permitting of street vendors in Los Angeles.

The BID letter stated that its board was “unanimously opposed to street vending in our BID district. If it should become law, we would like to see an Opt-In/Out system in place, except for our existing Farmer’s Market. Please keep us apprised of the ongoing discussions and decisions.”

In reaching their decision, BID members cited blocked sidewalks, the liability of a vendor in front of a business, the failure of vendors to pay property taxes and the responsibility for cleanup, as reasons for opting out.

A fruit vendor has set up shop north of Sunset Boulevard on Via de la Paz, by the Shell station.

A fruit vendor has set up shop north of Sunset Boulevard on Via de la Paz, by the Shell station.

On January 31, the L.A. City Council voted to decriminalize sidewalk vending, noting that Los Angeles was one of the only major cities in the U.S. that doesn’t allow it.

According to the city’s chief legislative analyst, an estimated 10,000 food vendors and 40,000 other vendors do business on sidewalks, roadways and parks in L.A. Selling food or goods on a sidewalk can lead to misdemeanor charges.

New rules being drawn up by city attorneys will drop criminal penalties for vend- ing, and a new ordinance will be written to give the Board of Public Works the power to issue vending permits. Also in the works is the possibility of allowing some neigh- borhoods to impose stricter rules.

Under the City Council’s proposed system, the city would issue a limited number of permits, allowing up to two stationary vendors to set up shop on each face of a block (four total) in commercial and industrial zones, and an as-yet-undetermined number of mobile vendors in residential areas.

The L.A. Street Vendor Campaign maintains that the city should not allow neighborhoods to totally prohibit sidewalk vending, nor require vendors to get permission from neighboring shops to do business outside, nor restrict the number of vendors per block.

The Coalition to Save Small Business raised similar concerns about sidewalk vending, in line with the Palisades BID, and argued that communities should be able to choose “more, less or no sidewalk vending.”

The Los Angeles County Public Health website notes that vendors who sell food should have a sticker or health permit and if they don’t, should be reported. County officials say that the following violations can possibly make people sick: 1.) no potable water for food handlers to wash their hands or utensils; 2.) food obtained from unapproved sources; 3.) potentially hazardous food held at unsafe temperatures; 4.) lack of proper equipment to maintain food at the required temperatures; 5.) unsanitary conditions including unclean food equipment; 6.) food not protected from contamination or adulteration; 7.) no restroom available for food handlers; and 8.) unapproved food equipment.

In a Jan. 25 L.A. Weekly story, the history of street vending is detailed, which began with migrants from Mexico and Central American to Los Angeles.

“On sidewalks across L.A., street vendors sell bacon-wrapped hot dogs, sliced fruit with chili powder and lime, tacos and paletas (popsicles), as well as clothing and seasonal holiday items.”

The Bureau of Street Services estimates that annually, 50,000 micro-businesses set up on the sidewalks of the city. According to the Economic Roundtable, street vending is a $504-million industry in Los Angeles.

On February 25, the City Council voted to decriminalize street vending. Fearing a crackdown on undocumented immigrants by the Trump administration, councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Curran Price said there was a new urgency to allow street vending.

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