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Street Food Vending Is Now Completely Legal in LA’s Tourist Hot Spots

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to eliminate restricted street vending zones throughout Los Angeles

Street vendors in Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Street food vendors on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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.

On Tuesday, February 6, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to eliminate restricted street vending zones throughout Los Angeles. It’s a massive win for street food vendors, who are currently prohibited from selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs, elotes, and other foods near busy areas like the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ordinance will take effect in 30 to 40 days, depending on when Mayor Karen Bass signs it into law.

Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Hugo Soto-Martinez introduced the ordinance, which will allow street vendors to operate in tourist-heavy areas of Los Angeles, in October 2023. “As someone who loves to go out and eat, I go to a brick-and-mortar because I’m looking for a certain kind of service and ambiance. If I want to eat a taco one day, that’s because I’ve chosen that I want to eat one on the street. I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive,” Soto-Martinez, whose district includes Atwater Village, Silver Lake, and the Walk of Fame, tells Eater. (Soto-Martinez’s parents are former street vendors.)

It’s been a long road for street food vending since California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 946 (SB 946) in 2018, decriminalizing the practice throughout the state and mandating California cities to develop local regulations surrounding it. At that time, the Los Angeles City Council created seven restricted zones that prohibit street vending around the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Coliseum, Convention Center/L.A. Live, Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Walk of Fame, El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument, Universal Studios, and Universal CityWalk.

Immediately following the City Council’s restrictions, bustling areas for street food vendors around the Walk of Fame experienced an uptick in citations by the Bureau of Street Services. One bacon-wrapped hot dog vendor was cited at least 30 times within two years, with fines ranging from $100 to $500 per ticket, reported the Los Angeles Times.

In 2022, street vendors and community organizations sued the City of Los Angeles, alleging that the no-vending zones were in direct conflict with SB 946. These vendors alleged that Los Angeles officials consistently and arbitrarily harassed vendors who operated in the restricted zones. KTLA reports that the trial connected to the lawsuit will begin on February 15, 2024, and that the plaintiffs are looking for the city to retract all of the citations issued to street vendors who operated in no-vending zones and to refund vendor fines that have already been paid.

The struggle surrounding street food vendors occurred well before SB 946 became law. Former councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s team and the Bureau of Street Services enacted a “special enforcement zone” in July 2018, claiming that street vendors are creating unsafe walkways and taking up too much sidewalk space.

This latest development signals a marked change on the local government level in how street food vending is viewed and treated in Los Angeles.