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LA City Proposal to Legalize Street Vendors Still Leaves Many in the Murk

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What about the rest of us, say LA County vendors

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Stan Lee
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.

Though of late there seems to have been a push for some level of clarity, the truth is that the vast majority of greater Los Angeles’ street food vendors are still just as concerned about their future as ever. In a piece from last month, SCPR takes a look at vendors operating both within the true city limits and beyond, and how recent legalization efforts might affect them directly.

The reported story focuses mostly on vendors in the Florence-Firestone area, an unincorporated section of Southeast LA that does not fall under the same recently proposed city legislation initiative to legalize street vending. To make matters worse, vendor Prudencia Lopez says that her and others in the area have been unfairly targeted in recently ramped-up efforts by the nearby Century Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs. They’ve been subjected to ticketing, fines, and confiscation, and don’t see much of a pathway out.

For their efforts, police says the vendors continue to draw crowds that take over the entire sidewalk — sometimes forcing families into the street — and that local residents and business complain about the trash and noise from clustered street food vendors.

Under a current proposal going in front of the City Council, those parts of Los Angeles under their jurisdiction could become safe havens for legal, regulated street vendors. But that would leave out large swaths of the greater county, including areas like Florence-Firestone and even street food hotbeds like East LA. Current County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas tells SCPR that despite the city’s efforts, “there are no immediate plans in the works for the county to legalize street vending.”

And so, vendors like Prudencia Lopez continue to serve their food, despite the risks. Hopefully once a framework for legalization has been installed within the city, the county can work to bring the same program to the rest of Los Angeles, but until then it’s business — however tenuous — as usual.