ECHO PARK (CBSLA) — It’s no question that Angelenos love their tacos and the street vendors who sell them, but City Hall is looking to shut them down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Driving through the streets of the Westlake District, street vendors are a common sight — many of them handling food without gloves and exchanging cash without a place to wash their hands.
This is why the Los Angeles City Council has taken steps toward implementing a moratorium on street vending.
“With an abundance of caution, we thought it was more important to protect life over livelihood,” Councilman Gil Cedillo said.
Cedillo said a motion was unanimously approved earlier this week with the understanding that while there are a little more than a dozen licensed vendors, tens of thousands of vendors will suffer.
“Right now it’s all about public safety,” Cedillo said. “This is a real challenging health crisis, and we have to put that first.”
Sarah Portnoy, an associate professor at the University of Southern California whose focus is food studies in Latinx communities, said the information about the pandemic was not getting to everyone who needs it — especially among the working poor.
“Let’s try to be as free from judgment as we can and be patient with other and understanding right now during these incredibly challenging times,” she said.
Which is why the city said it wants to educate and inform vendors to get them to comply rather than arresting people.
Community leaders are also working to provide financial help, including assistance for those who are undocumented.
“There’s help in terms of there’s a moratorium on evictions,” Cedillo said.
And while the initial motion did not include food trucks, Cedillo said he would bring it up on Tuesday when the council is set to take a final vote on the moratorium.