The Los Angeles City Council Just Took a Major Step to Legalize Street Food
Here's why the fight for legal food vending isn't over yet.
Seeing how Los Angeles has such a close cultural connection to Mexico, a country where street food is a way of life, not to mention that the city was instrumental in launching America’s food truck craze (different from literal street food, but not by a ton), it’s hard to believe that street vending in L.A. is illegal. But thanks to a historic move by the L.A. City Council yesterday, that is likely about to change.
An early indication that legalized street vending would be coming to Los Angeles happened back in February of last year when, spurred in part by the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants, the city council voted to decriminalize selling food or goods on the sidewalk (instead choosing to enforce by fines). Still, proponents of street vending had a larger goal in mind: legalizing the activity entirely, which the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign argued would be good for “creating jobs, bringing healthy food into low-income neighborhoods, and cultivating vibrant and safe streets,” as well as giving current vendors the opportunity to legitimize their businesses.
Yesterday, those pleas were heard and, by a vote of 11 to 4, the L.A. City Council approved a plan to write a sidewalk vending ordinance, which, as councilmember Jose Huizar wrote on Twitter, will hopefully create “a fair system to allow 1000's of hardworking mostly #immigrant, low-income workers [to] come out of the shadows & feed their families.”
Of course, you don’t have to be a legislator to notice that approving a plan to write a new ordinance is about as vague of a first step as they come. According to Eater LA, plenty of details still need to be sorted out—chief among them is figuring out a compromise between street vendors and the brick-and-mortar businesses that will be near them. But with this initial vote out of the way, Huizar and others on the council now have 60 days to create a draft ordinance for what legalized street vending will look like in Los Angeles. Reportedly, the council first took up this issue five years ago, so by comparison, a couple more months isn’t a huge deal.