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City Council Makes Park Vending Ban Official, Still Doesn't Address Street Food Concerns

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More bad news for many.

A pushcart vendor in Echo Park
A pushcart vendor in Echo Park
Farley Elliott
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

That LA City Council's plan to reinstate a long-dormant ban on illegal vending at beaches and public parks has finally come to pass, with the legislators voting 12-3 to bring back the crack-down.

For street food operators, beachy yoga teachers, and boot camp yellers alike, the ban means an escalating stepladder of fines and possible criminal charges for anyone caught in the act.

The City Council, in calling for a need to establish some sort of safety baseline so as to avoid getting sued by someone who might get sick or hurt, decided to go with the plan of "ban them all and let the courts sort ‘em out," instead of, you know, a more nuanced and thoughtful approach.

The newfound crackdown does nothing to help the city’s case in the ongoing debate about street food in Los Angeles. It’s been widely editorialized that more insightful, dedicated street food legislation and regulation is dearly needed — and some within the L.A. city and county political works are trying to make that happen — but in the meantime overbearing policies like these will likely have a more negative effect at the negotiating table, when vendors, community organizers, and politicians hope to sit down to draft a workable solution to our ongoing street food woes.

The LA Times, in a post regarding the vote, notes that technically permitted vendors are still allowed to operate inside of city parks and on beaches, but that those necessary permits simply aren’t meted out to pushcart vendors or other street food types. Instead, they go to things like paddle boat rental companies.

And, of course, anyone expressing their personal creative freedoms — book authors, painters, etc. — is still free to sell their wares in parks, on piers, and along beaches. Just no food.