LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Following years of debate, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve an ordinance which legalizes sidewalk vending.
The ordinance requires sidewalk vendors selling anything from tamales to toys to have permits. It also regulates where they can set up shop. The ordinance will set up “no vending zones” outside places such as Staples Center, the Hollywood Bowl and Dodger Stadium.
Despite approving the ordinance, however, the exact details still need to be developed. It will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2020.
Hundreds of vendors rallied outside City Hall ahead of the vote.
“We want to pay our taxes, we want protection, because a lot of things happen… we can get hurt, we can get robbed, just security,” San Pedro vendor Patty Archuleta told CBS2 outside City Hall.
The city has been progressing towards legalizing street vending. In February of 2017, the city council removed criminal penalties for sidewalk vendors. They now only face tickets and civil fines.
However, in July, the city announced it would be enforcing a municipal code known as the bulky items ordinance to try and force sidewalk vendors off of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. Under that ordinance, which was originally designed to target homeless encampments, the city is allowed to confiscate large items. The city argued that the vendors were posing a hazard to pedestrians and disabled people on the very busy Walk of Fame.
The ordinance passed Wednesday seeks to establish a more permanent ban on street vending on Hollywood Boulevard.
“In the city council, in the recommendations, they want to ban vending on Hollywood Boulevard,” said Rudy Espinoza with the L.A. Street Vendor Campaign. “So a lot of vendors that have been selling on Hollywood Boulevard for many, many years, are worried that that’s going to impact their livelihood.”
On Tuesday, three city council committees finalized the permit-ordinance which will be voted on by the full city council. The council wants to have the ordinance in place before a new state law takes effect Jan. 1, 2019, which decriminalizes sidewalk vending, but prevents cities from enforcing sellers if they do not have local laws in place.
The state law also prohibits any rule requiring vendors to obtain the permission of nearby brick-and-mortar businesses.
The Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee, the Economic Development Committee and the Arts, Entertainment, Parks and River Committee approved the permit-based ordinance ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
The committees opted to move forward with the permit-based ordinance over a regulatory-based one. The permit ordinance allows vendors the right to operate on a certain block or in a certain zone, while the regulatory system would create a set of rules and standards, but would not grant site-specific permission to a vendor.
The new ordinance would not put a distance restriction on how many vendors would be allowed on any block, beyond requiring that their kiosks be at least three feet apart.
In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 946, which makes it easier for sidewalk vendors to operate and limits when they can be criminally prosecuted. However, it also leaves room for cities and counties to create permit programs for vendors. Under the law, sidewalk vendors can be required to hold business licenses and pay taxes. Cities and counties can also establish health and safety policies for them.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)