The city is lifting the ban on vending machines near the Hollywood Bowl and other popular LA locations

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

The city is lifting the ban on vending machines near the Hollywood Bowl and other popular LA locations

LA Politics, Homepage News

Caroline Petrow-Cohen

February 6, 2024

With nearly 100 street vendors in the crowd, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to lift the ban on vending machines in seven high-traffic areas in the city, including the Hollywood Bowl and Dodger Stadium.

The no-sell zones were established by a 2018 ordinance that decriminalized street vending elsewhere in the city and created rules and regulations for vendors. The other zones without sales


include the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Arena, Universal Studios, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument and Exposition Park.

City officials said at the time that street vendors worsen traffic congestion in these busy areas, but they provided no data corroborating their claim. A 2018 California law decriminalized street vending across the state and limited local governments from restricting sidewalk sales unless there were objective health, safety or welfare concerns.

In 2022, two street vendors and a trio of community organizations sued the city over the no-sell zones, arguing the zones violated state law. The city did not have enough evidence to ban street vending in those areas, they said.

We reviewed thousands of pages of city documents and records and found nothing to support why they identified these areas, said Joshua Busch, communications director for Public Counsel, the pro bono law firm representing the sellers. It should be an objective assessment, not just someone’s gut feeling or feeling.

The City Council motion that led to the elimination of the no-sell zones recognized that the city’s street vending ordinance needed to be amended to ensure it complied with state law.

Other rules governing where street vendors can sell remain in effect, including a ban on vending stands within five feet of fire hydrants and three feet of street lights and parking meters.

Today’s vote is about bringing the city into compliance with state standards, said Council Member Hugo Soto-Martnez, who introduced the motion along with Council President Paul Krekorian.

We’ve essentially taken away some of the most popular areas for street vendors, Soto-Martnez said. If they can be there without the threat of being ticketed or harassed, that will be huge. They are part of the social fabric of the city.”

Merlin Alvarado, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, has been selling fruit and hot dogs on Hollywood Boulevard for seventeen years. She has received several citations for selling near the Walk of Fame, but still chooses to sell there because of the abundance of potential customers.

The elimination of no-sale zones will allow her to reach customers without the threat of tickets and fines, she said in Spanish. Born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Alvarado uses her profits from street vending to support her three children.

Street vending often offers new immigrants the opportunity to become entrepreneurs, Krekorian said. Street vendors, if carefully regulated, can play a vital role in the life of a vibrant commercial district.

In a separate vote Tuesday, the council lowered the permit fee for street vendors from $291 to $27.51. Both Soto-Martnez and Krekorian had relatives who were street vendors in Los Angeles.

Although the City Council has addressed most of Alvarado’s lawsuit by eliminating no-sale zones, Public Counsel’s Busch said they will still continue with the trial, which is scheduled for Feb. 15.

While this is a big step forward and certainly a win for sellers in Los Angeles, it does have significant limitations when it comes to not addressing citations and fines, he said.

Busch wants street vendors to be reimbursed for the citations they received while selling in the illegal no-sell zones. He also wants all pending quotes removed.

On Tuesday, Busch and the street vendors celebrated their victory at City Hall. Soto-Martnez said the vendors have been fighting for this victory for years.

The credit should go to the people who organize on the ground every day,” he said.


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