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Here’s Everything to Know About LA’s New Street Vending Rules

The local elotero became legitimate in Los Angeles

Tamales on the street at Bonnie Brae & 6th Street in Los Angeles
Tamales on the street at Bonnie Brae & 6th Street in Los Angeles
Wonho Frank Lee
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

In anticipation of the state-mandated January 1 deadline, the Los Angeles City Council overwhelmingly approved an ordinance to fully legalize street vending today. The vote was expected, as outgoing Governor Jerry Brown recently signed the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, or SB 946, which requires cities and counties to develop their own local rules when regulating street vendors.

This ordinance is the next step from the Council’s early November proposal, which became a citywide ordinance today. In response to SB 946’s September signing, the Council asked the Bureau of Street Services and Parks and Recreation to submit rules by November 15, which allows enough time for the City of Los Angeles to be in statewide compliance by the new year.

SB 946 is focused on health, welfare, or safety concerns. And while the details are still being ironed out, the Council is simply focused on the new street vending law, which is barely two months old. SB 946 is very specific, it prevents any California city from enforcing vending laws without a local system in place.

The city has plenty of work to do after today’s 14 to 0 vote. The Council meeting cemented the following regulations for street vendors throughout Los Angeles:

  • Over the next 12 months, the City of Los Angeles will implement a citywide permit program. These permits will allow vendors to reserve specific locations.
  • The ordinance grants a one-year period while the City works out the details of the permit program. They’ll also hire a service provider to conduct education and outreach to sidewalk vendors, while assisting them with the permit application process.
  • There are strict rules on where vendors can operate. Street vendors are not allowed near large event venues like the Staples Center, or the Los Angeles Coliseum, where street vendors were forcibly removed from sidewalks and parking lots during a November 11 Rams game.
  • In city parks, there will be a two vendor per acre rule.
  • Bureau of Street Services will provide enforcement for sidewalk vendors. Park Rangers will oversee enforcement of vendors at parks.
  • Rules, regulations, and requirements will be determined by the Department of Public Works.
  • There is no cap on the number of vendors.
  • Vendors will be required to obtain a business license, tax, and health permits.
  • Vendors not in compliance with the law will be cited and fined by the Department of Street Services.

Street vendor Caridad Vasquez responded to the news. “For me, it is a historic victory to be able to work legally without harassment,” says Vasquez. “Street vendors are not criminals, we are micro-entrepreneurs that contribute to the economy of Los Angeles and the whole state.”