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New LA City Council Motion Would Stop Enforcement Against Street Food Vendors

Plus, fewer public health fines for restaurants, and an update on Musso & Frank

Street vendor on 6th and Bonnie Brae in Los Angeles
A street vendor at work in Los Angeles, pre-pandemic.
Wonho Frank 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.

Recently-elected city councilmember Nithya Raman of Los Angeles’s 4th District is pushing the council and city/county officials to deal more equitably with street vendors. Raman has long been an outspoken advocate for “micro-entrepreneur” vendors, even penning an op-ed for Eater back in the early days of the pandemic that put her perspective plainly that LA has continually failed its street vendors.

Now Raman is pushing a new motion in council chambers that aims to change the way officials deal with vendors on the streets. The motion, co-authored by Curren Price, seeks to “reestablish a moratorium on enforcing and issuing citations for vending without a valid license or permit for the duration of the COVID-19 State of Emergency and for six months thereafter.”

Previously during the pandemic, street food vendors were all but banned by the same city council, and they continue to be mostly left behind by many major city initiatives like the al fresco outdoor dining program. Raman and Price’s motion would also instruct city officials to update the council on the current state of the labyrinthine permitting process with the county’s public health office, which has long stood in between legal vending efforts for the vast majority of street vendors. The text of the full motion can be seen here.

In other news:

  • The Street Vendor Emergency Fund has been reopened around Los Angeles. Donations can be made directly to the fund, which then gets distributed to vendors and workers in need. Meanwhile, need an explainer on just how convoluted the county’s street food vendor laws are? Here’s a great read from LA Taco.
  • Despite the ability to reopen indoors at limited capacity around the county this week, plenty of restaurants continue to take it slow. The Eastsider heard from places like La Pergoletta and Fred 62 on their plans, while the LA Times spoke to Rossoblu, E.P. & L.P., and others. Meanwhile, further west, the entire Rustic Canyon group is taking it slow, saying they’re waiting for more employees to be vaccinated before reopening indoors.
  • In related news, Musso & Frank Grill isn’t ready to return just yet. They say in a lengthy Instagram post that “we are now starting the extensive process of putting the gears in motion for a reopening in the near future,” adding that it will “take several weeks” at least.
  • Sugarfish has a new limited-time menu item: toro tataki bento. The individual box includes sustainably farmed bluefin tuna, sushi rice, nori, and salmon roe, and is available for pick up or delivery at all locations.
  • Birdie G’s is starting a new charity-driven happy hour (of sorts) this week. The ongoing event runs 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday and starts tonight, with five percent of all sales from that hour going quarterly to a rotating charity. First up is the Lungevity Foundation, working to fight lung cancer.
  • Hollywood and Highland’s $100 million reconstruction effort is getting underway, says Urbanize LA. Take a look at some renderings to see what the future holds.
  • Santa Barbara County is moving into the less restrictive red tier today, per KEYT. That means indoor dining reopenings and all the same changes as in Los Angeles County and elsewhere.
  • It looks like the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is changing up its enforcement of recently-updated public health orders for restaurants, with a particular emphasis on warnings and education rather than fines — at least for first offenders. As for longtime out-of-compliance bar Tinhorn Flats, a judge recently ruled that the city of Burbank can shut off the business’s electricity, though they can’t padlock the doors.