Legalize street vendors? Some businesses are carefully open to the idea

Boyle Heights vendor | Ana Facio-Krajcer

Boyle Heights vendor | Ana Facio-Krajcer


The effort to legalize street vendors is moving forward at City Hall.  The proposal has proven controversial in the past, with many residents as well as brick-and-mortar business owners  opposed to the idea.  But most of the business owners and managers who were interviewed by The Eastsider were open to but cautious about the measure.

“If it’s a taco stand, of course it’s competition,” said Miguel Perez, the manager at Acapulco restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, near Virgil Avenue in East Hollywood. But, “as long as [vendors] keep it nice and clean, that would fine,”

Perez’s answer was typical among but so was his surprise to hear that the city was considering the matter; Perez, like most of the other businesses owners and employees who were interviewed, had not heard about the renewed efforts to legalize vendors.

The latest push comes as advocates are concerned that undocumented immigrants who are cited for illegal vending may face deportation under a Trump presidency. Under a proposal that came out last week from a Council committee, each block could have up to four vendors – two on each side of the street. Adjacent businesses owners would also have the power to approve their presence. The plan goes to the full City Council for review next spring.

“I know people who are against vendors,” said Meghan Dhaliwal, a manager at Caffe Vita in Los Feliz. “But I think cheap street food is great.”

Dhaliwal said vendors nearby probably wouldn’t create much competition with her store, since Caffe Vita doesn’t serve hot food.

Christian Chavez, owner of Echoes Under Sunset on Glendale Boulevard in Echo Park,  had heard of the recent vendor proposal and unabashedly supported it.

“I got no problem with street vendors. They’re convenient,” said Chavez, whose business is primarily a comedy venue – selling drinks, but not much food. “So it’s kind of cool for us to have the street vendors.”

He added that the vendors are clean and don’t take away from other businesses, since his neighborhood sees so many people.

“Some people come out of a club or bar get something to eat and keep running,” he said.

The City Council is scheduled to take up the most recent street vendor proposal early next year.

Barry Lank grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, then went away for a seriously long time. He has worked in TV and radio, and currently helps produce The Final Edition Radio Hour.

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  1. Just keep the ones selling junk away from schools upon dismissal as too many children are obese with risks of diabetes due to poor diets. Kids in the after school programs sneak out to get junk food and risk danger as well.

  2. Great idea. Lets turn our economy into a “mercantillo” economy like Mexico, throw all regulations and tax collection out the window so LA can continue it’s spiral down into the toilet. While we’re at it, let’s set aside a few million tax dollars aside to defend people who broke the law to come here. GREAT LEADERSHIP AND GREAT MESSAGES!

    • It’s called free market capitalism. The street vendors are already out there hustling every day. Legalizing and permitting the process would just bring them back into the formal economy, along with more tax base. Win/win.

      • Relying on self reporting of cash sales?

        Good luck with that.

        • Certainly better than the alternative of no reporting and risks of breaking up families.
          If you have a better solution, please state it here!

          • Better solution? Easy – do away with all taxes and regulations imposed on restaurants doing business in L.A. Get rid of the Letter grading system and random inspections. Since we are playing fast and loose with the rules for a select group of chosen people, then no rules should apply. Problem solved, bon appetit.

  3. What a dumb idea. Just look at the accompanying photo to this story. They are selling snack chips that are most likely labeled “NOT FOR INDIVIDUAL SALE” on the bag. It’s one thing if you’re cooking basic food like hot dogs but gimme a break. Pay your taxes. Stop stealing from people who are doing it the hard way and running a proper business. Also, as the poster above mentioned, I frequently see the cart men honking their horns peddling total crap food like pork rinds and low end icecream to kids after school.

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