Police try a new strategy to sweep out Echo Park Lake swap meet vendors

A swap meet-free Echo Park Lake today.

The LAPD returned to Echo Park Lake today for the second consecutive Sunday to keep swap meet vendors out of the park. But, unlike last weekend when police cleared the park  of peddlers by issuing tickets for solicitation on public property, today they were enforcing a different law. It turns out that the municipal code officers were enforcing last Sunday was voided in the early 1970s, said Sgt. Joel Miller with the Rampart Division special problems unit. Miller and city legal experts spent Friday looking into the matter after The Eastsider reported that a deputy city attorney assigned to deal with the Echo Park swap meet raised questions about the last weekend’s police action.  “The tickets won’t be prosecuted,” Miller said of the handful of citations issued last Sunday. Instead, after conferring with the City Attorney on Friday, police today showed up at Echo Park Lake prepared to write citations for violations of a state law requiring sellers permits.

However, when police arrived this morning to enforce the state law,  the swap meet vendors – who at one  point occupied most of the northern and eastern portions of the park – failed to set up. “It looked like word got out,” about last week’s police action, said officer Joseph Torrance this afternoon. No one had been cited as of 2 PM for violations of the state law, he said.  Torrance said some people had expressed support for the police action. “They were enjoying having the park back.”

Miller, who was interviewed Friday, said  that the Capt. Steve Ruiz of the Rampart Division had made clearing out the swap meet a priority. However, Miller concedes, he was the one who decided to enforce the municipal code dealing with solicitation, unaware that it was no longer in effect  (the reasons why the law was voided could not be immediately determined). “That does not mean it won’t be challenged but, right now, it’s something I can use,” Miller said.

This month’s police action comes about a month after representatives from Councilman Eric Garcetti’s office and the City Attorney said the city was powerless to enforce laws to stop the swap meet until a lawsuit brought by vendors and exhibitors in Venice is resolved.

Juan Vargas, who was visiting the park this afternoon with his wife and son, said he had mixed feelings about police clearing out the vendors.  Vargas,  who had purchased tools at the swap meet, said he wonders why the city could not organize a swap meet or flea market on some nearby public parking lots instead of the park. He said that some cities in his native Mexico allocate and charge for space at such markets. “The park is not a place for selling things,” Vargas said. “It’s for the family to enjoy.”

Related Post:
Park goers react to closing of Echo Park swap meet. The Informer


  1. I noticed last night I as came home around 10:30 the park was empty. I could not see the strings or tape placed around the park. I was amazed as I also did not see the infamous trucks that are usually setting up late at night around the parks edges in order to sell the spots on Sunday morning. Then when I got up this morning and what to my surprise there was no one in the park. I quickly ran down to witness no vendors! What I saw is depicted in the picture above. At 3 pm went back to the park to take a look again. My gosh, it was full of families sitting around eating chicken and sandwiches. I also saw little kids rolling down the small incline on Echo Park side of park. They were laughing, smiling and having fun. I spoke with Officer Torrance as others stood in line to say something to him. What a wonderful day it has been around here.

  2. good. what an eyesore and park takeover it was !

  3. Yay! So glad to hear that reestablishment of non-commercial community enjoyment of the park continues. Thank you!

  4. Telemundo having panel discussion on illegal vending tomorrow Tues. Aug 10th MacArthur Park. Everyone who is against illegal vending go. They only want Spanish Speakers which is discriminatory. Why do we have to have interperters at our community meetings but they never accommodate the English speakers. 3:00pm Tues. Aug. 19th MacArthura Park, Telemundo Show on illegal vending and Los Angeles

  5. great news, as a resident! mr. vargas as absolutely right: why can’t they use an empty parking lot? our green spaces are so few in this city, it seems like a much better solution.

    anyway, it’s really nice to have a park in my neighborhood both days each weekend. as it should be.

  6. I live very close to the lake. Close enough so where parking is greatly effected by the Sunday market. Despite this fact, I’ve been appalled at the “community” reaction I’ve seen to this situation.

    Would everyone be this offended if people where selling organic produce or Tibetan flags?

    The whole incident has reeked of classism and racism.

  7. looks like the whole thing has blown over, nothing to see here. can we all just let it go and stop the derogatory remarks to each other?

  8. It’s a “park” leave the swap meets to the old drive-ins
    Racist? not even close.

  9. TH.

    Everyone would be just as upset if ANY entity did a wholesale takeover of the PARK. Parks are for the enjoyment of all, not a select few, or entitled group. Your comments smack of unfounded righteousness. Do some research om EP’s colorful history before you accuse people of the very thing of which you are guilty.

    TH writes:
    Would everyone be this offended if people where selling organic produce or Tibetan flags?

    The whole incident has reeked of classism and racism.

  10. my friend called to tell me she was at the park by the temple side on glendale and some artsy types made a sign that looked like the O.G Echo Park sign with the words welcome to Echo PArk home of gangs, drugs dealers, illegals, and other not so nice stuff. she immmediately went to the maint. house and advised the maint. guy who said oh yeah I for got to take it down. I’ve heard of some ballsie stuff, but this takes the award.

  11. WHAT?! No Photo of the previous comment? I say Bull Turkey to you then, When I told the media, and the law about the illegal vending I was told No Photos, No Proof. Same to everyone else then I suggest, I promptly went to the park and took many many photos of illegal vendors, Illegal Vending, Vending with no permit, Vending on public Property, Vending on Private property, etc etc etc. I started documenting saturday nights back in april, and sunday afternoons about the same time. I got many up close and personal photos and video of these vendors. I was all for starting up a website to post photos of these repeat unwanted visitors.

  12. We now have a flea market/swap meet at Dodger Stadium – the vendors should be told to sell there or at the Friday Farmer’s Market.


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