L.A. to crack down on vending – and yoga classes – in city parks

Private yoga class at Silver Lake Meadow

The City Council is moving forward to once again ban unpermitted vendors from city parks after being virtually powerless for years to stop such vending that ranged from  swap meets at Echo Park Lake to private yoga classes in the Silver Lake Meadow.

The City Council on Tuesday voted in favor of adopting a ban on the selling of most items and services in city parks and beaches without required permits. The regulations against selling in parks had been frozen for years as the city had to resolve lengthy legal battles over free-speech issues and then re-write ordinances to withstand legal challenges.

While food and merchandise vendors had attracted the most attention and complaints, yoga instructors who were charging fees to hold classes on parkland also were caught up in the issue. Said The L.A. Times:

Backers such as Councilman Joe Buscaino said that the reinstated rules would protect the city from being sued if someone was hurt or sickened by the wares or services sold by unlicensed park vendors. “Say someone gets hurt during an unpermitted yoga class, who would be liable?” Buscaino asked Senior Assistant City Atty. Valerie Flores.

“Arguably, the city could be sued,” Flores said

Many residents and park advocates say the lack of enforcement had allowed vendors to crowd popular parks – such as Echo Park Lake – and operate money-making business – such as yoga classes – on public property.  However, many vendors and their supporters argued that banning vendors and then fining them for selling without permits would be an unfair hardship.

Clothes for sale at Echo Park Lake | Photo by Echo Park resident

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  1. As an evil gentrifier, I’ll sacrifice yoga in the park if it means also getting rid of the tacky swap meets leaving garbage everywhere

  2. Hey kids, get your ice cream and cotton candy elsewhere ya smelly runts! This new sterile version of LA sucks.

  3. Culturally Unwelcoming

    ” many vendors and their supporters argued that banning vendors and then fining them for selling without permits would be an unfair hardship.” It may be a hardship for them, but it’s not unfair; they’re welcome to use the parks in the same legal ways others do. Other people have rights, too, and ought to be able to use public parks as they were intended to be used.

  4. Parks are not swap meets. Parks are not for gym classes. Glad to hear the attend to just let a park be a park.

  5. Thanks to the council for passing this needed ordinance.

    As someone who has been against vending, I admit that I’ve
    grown to appreciate the way some of these vendors (neighborhood people) are
    trying to scrap together an income by selling homemade food
    in the park.

    But-while I appreciate their work ethic and empathize with
    their economic plight – vending in city parks is a complicated
    issue that poses legal liability to the city and is unfair to brick/morter
    stores with significant overhead.

    And while I happen to like seeing yoga classes in the park, if the
    city council is going to regulate food vending -the yoga people have
    to be subject to the same standards.

    So, despite my sympathy for the neighborhood working poor vendor &
    exercise enthusiasts —this ordinance will keep the flea market people,
    pony ride guys, multiple people selling bagged chips & sugared drinks,
    crappy novelty cart companies & people with homemade grills
    w/no food safety standards or training -out of the park.
    Which I feel is a good thing.

  6. I love being able to get a dirty dog, a beverage, or ice cream in the park. And not have to wait or pay the prices at Square One. It also makes echo park what is. I think the park looks beautiful right now and that is great. But a bunch of unnecessary regulations will take away all the character. I say leave it alone.

    • Echo Park has always been a “people’s” park where vendors & their children work to provide income for their families. This has been going on for at least half a century. Wonder why so many folks want to stop this tradition with all their rationalizations to make the poor poorer? I and my family have eaten food from the vendors for decades. We’re still breathing!

      • ….because we are desperately trying to avoid becoming Tijuana.

        We already have tent cities under the freeways. we need to discourage “mercantillo societies”. OR we can drop ALL the rules for EVERYONE so we can ALL set up illegal vending businesses and housing.

        I don’t want to live in Tijuana.

  7. You got to think, where do these vendors wash their hands? Go to the bathroom? A friend of mine’s nephew caught Hep C from a street vendor, after that I’ll never eat from one of these carts again.

    • You can’t get Hep C from food. Educate yourself! Unless you are implying your friend’s nephew had sex or shared needles with the street vendor.

    • Your friends nephew caught a blood borne virus from a food vendor??? I mean, I could see getting some sort of food poisoning from a poorly run food vendor, but unless the vendor in question was selling unsterilized medical disposables or used drug needles I would think getting Hep C (or HIV for that matter) from a food vendor would be next to impossible.

    • http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm#cFAQ31

      How long does the Hepatitis C virus survive outside the body?

      The Hepatitis C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for up to 3 weeks.

      • From the link you provided:

        “Hepatitis C virus is not spread by sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing. It is also not spread through food or water.”

      • By the way, I’m not trying to say that there are no potential health issues with getting food from a street vendors. There are a ton of things that can go wrong. You can even get Hep A (pretty rare as you should have already been vaccinated for it, but possible). All I’m saying is getting Hep C from street food is really really really unlikely.

  8. Too bad we can’t get an ordinance to get the homeless out of the parks. We need to bring back vagrancy laws.

  9. The bearucrats haven’t been very creative. They could have unleashed the busines tax office on these folks a long time ago.

    They’re pretty relentless with those of us trying to run legit businesses.

  10. Tough issue. I’ll miss the elote during little league games in GP.

  11. I should be used to it by now, but I’m still always surprised and disgusted by people’s complete ignorance and and fear based need for more and more sense of control in Echo Park. I could care less about Yoga classes, but trying to push vendors out of the park is going a little too far. If you’ve moved here and have issues with the people who have made the neighborhood what it is today, then I seriously question the way your brain works. It’s shocking to see the level of sugar coated hidden racism and attempts at cultural uprooting that goes on in these comments. You have some pretty screwed up views to move into a traditionally Latino neighborhood and then wine and bitch about how you have a problem with how the families here live and try to support themselves. People moving in and pushing for these changes are simply racist. Period. I really try and save that statement as a last resort and not jump to that conclusion right off the bat, but if you seriously think that your racism and disregard for the livelihood of the people here isn’t obvious, then you’re either too scared to be honest about it or just in complete denial. It’s not fair to move here and wine about how you want it to change. Echo Park is what it is, it’s beautiful and has a pretty diverse culture. If you want to make it less “Mexican” at least have the courage to say so, because you’re attempt at rationalizing change is clearly coming from a place of fear, ignorance, and prejudice.

    • Co-sign. Certain posters are certainly closet-bigots. Not unlike the local pilates instructor who was recently exposed by her own comments, which she insisted were private and therefore a misrepresentation of her public persona(?). At which point, she and her ilk rely on coded “sugar coated” prejudice and bigotry to assert their “hopes” and “concern” for OUR community. Fortunately, this barrio is simply not engineered to be luxurious, wealthy, or even upper middle-class. Once the reality of urban grit and grunge sinks in (which already appears to be happening considering the desperate emphasis on sanitizing every street and corner of our community before it’s too late) they’ll move on, like they always do, and the community will return to it’s working-class roots and character. If you ask me, it’s already happening, e.g., how many more overpriced businesses need to shut down before the reality finally sinks in?

      • “this barrio is simply not engineered to be luxurious, wealthy, or even upper middle-class.”

        When it was FOUNDED, it WAS luxurious, wealthy, and upper middle-class. Learn some history.

        • Really?!? When has ANYbody ever mistaken EP for Hancock Park? Or Los Feliz? Or San Marino? Or even Eagle Rock? Look around Dufus. EP (and NELA) has ALWAYS been poor and working-class. There are no mansions, or huge craftsmans, or mediterranean villas in EP. Rather it’s characterized by assorted apartments, duplexes, one, two, and three-bedrrom homes with modest yards and NO swimming pools as is the majority of the rest ofNEL.A. Not even your fellow yahoos will dare chime in to contradict my post and support your ignorance-saturated revisionist “history.” Do some more research Sherlock and you’ll find photos of this area looking like a virtual forest in the teens and 20s NOT Bunker Hill. Why or how else could so many artists, okies, and immigrants establish themselves here beginning in the 40s? THINIK.

          This concludes today’s Smack-Down of ignorant EP’s “code-talkers” . . . “Sleep Tight” . . . and Expect Me.

          • “There are no mansions, or huge craftsmans, or mediterranean villas in EP.”

            LOL…really? Now we know exactly what kind of impostor you really are…it sounds like you’ve probably never even been to our side of town.

            What are we always supposed to be expecting you to do, anyway…besides foam unintelligibly at the mouth, that is…

      • Martin Arredondo

        Just like Highland Park is going to be the next Ferguson. Still waiting.

      • It’s actually pretty simple and it really has nothing to do with culture. A park that does not have trash and debris blowing all over the place is inherently better than a park that does. If there’s a way to enforce these vendors to clean up their trash and keep the place nice and tidy, then great. Apparently that’s too much to ask or too hard to enforce so it’s just easier to ban it altogether. I don’t buy this whole “poor people don’t need nice things they are used to living among garbage and white people are snobby by trying to clean up the neighborhood” argument. If you really want to claim littering and not giving a shit about the aesthetics of your neighborhood as part of your culture, then that culture sucks.

      • Martin Arredondo

        Who is “our” and “they” that you keep talking about?

        • Just more bullshit from El Douche. He really believes people in NELA want to live in dirty, run down neighborhoods for cheap rent and tacos. Way to go PD! Change is already happening, and more is coming. Barrio no more.

    • So wait…which is it, now? Echo Park has a “pretty diverse culture”, or it’s “traditionally Latino” and “Mexican”?

      Frankly, I’m surprised and disgusted by your complete ignorance of the history of your own neighborhood.

    • “You have some pretty screwed up views to move into a traditionally Latino neighborhood… ”

      You have some pretty screwed up views to think this neighborhood was ALWAYS “Latino” or would STAY “Latino” forever until the end of time.

      Who’s the racist Xenophobe?

  12. I’ll risk the clap ,herpes ,hepC ,bird flu , diaharrea (on your lawn) for a $1 elote…oops i mean gentrify prices , $2 elote.

  13. I’ve been hoping that the city would grow some cojones and get rid of the park vendors for 20 years. Folks, parks are supposed to be clear of vendors, gym classes, yoga classes, etc. It’s a park – it’s to be enjoyed by the community as a free strip of green space within the busy and frequently dirty city. No vendors have a right to spoil that, and the damned gym/yoga classes crowd out people who just want to enjoy the park. People defending the vendors are wrong headed and really insane in their attempt to link it to racial politics. The vendors appeared when this part of the city began to decay and the middle to upper middle class neighborhood suffered a decline. Anyone who thinks it has to stay within that state of decay is fooling themselves. We have precious little greenspace in Los Angeles – and almost no small to medium sized parks. No private businesses should be able to crap up a park, period. I don’t care whether they’re catering to the poorer sectors, or to the privileged.

  14. The new vending ordinance isn’t a -echo park- regulation,
    its a city-wide parks and beaches ordinance.


    It’s an acknowledgment that unregulated vending is a legal liability to the city.

    Because, It Is.

    Also, it’s a testament to the true purpose of our parks and beaches.

    Recreation and appreciation of nature.
    Not a free market zone for unlicensed trade.

    This ordinance is -really needed- and needs to be put into place immediately.

    Last night, on a Tuesday -at 8:00 p.m., there were 10-12 unlicensed “food” vendors -all selling the same thing.
    “Food” = canned/bottled sugared drinks, bags of chips & bags of fried pork fat. Again, 10-12 carts selling the same “food”.

    Also, there were about 4 people selling dollars store toys. 3 people were hovering around the kids gym/play area
    selling the same plastic dollar store toys.

    If anybody thinks 10-14 people selling absolute crap , clogging sidewalks and parkways on a summer night
    is charming, or emblematic of the great character of a neighborhood —You need a reality check.

    And the city council just gave you one.

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