By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Dozens of street vendors held a rally outside Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday morning against what they call an uptick in aggressive enforcement tactics by county health inspectors.

Street vendors hold a rally in front of L.A. City Hall. June 22, 2021. (CBSLA)

The street vendors say that inspectors with the L.A. County Department of Public Health have been cracking down, removing vendors from areas where they have historically operated, such as Echo Park.

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According to the protesters, when Echo Park was closed in March in order to clear out the homeless encampments there, the vendors also were forced to leave. However, while the park reopened last month, vendors say they have not been allowed to return.

“This is one of the more legitimate means of trying to survive right now, as opposed to going out and getting involved in illicit, illegal activities,” vendor Billion Godsun told CBSLA. “People that are out here street vending are really trying to find a safer, better alternative to take care of their families, to pay their rents.”

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Earlier this month, LACDPH inspectors cracked down on street vendors who were unpermitted, throwing out the food they were trying to sell. The department told CBSLA that, since the vendors did not have proper refrigeration or handwashing stations, they had to presume the food was unsanitary and unsafe for consumption.

In November of 2018, the L.A. City Council voted to legalize sidewalk vending and to require vendors to have permits. The ordinance took effect in January of 2020.

However, the protesters argue that since then, only 2% of sidewalk vendors have been able to receive permits because of requirements they say are too strict. Vendors say the permit costs are prohibitive and the equipment costs are unrealistic.

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The protest was organized by the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign, a coalition of over 60 organizations.