For years, street vendors – led largely by women – have fought for a fair system that protects them. This week – after countless vendors faced arrest and harassment for just trying to make a living – Los Angeles has legalized street vending and regulated the often-maligned industry. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously in favor of this proposal.
The move comes nearly two years after the city decriminalized street vending. After President Donald Trump took office in 2017, a larger number of undocumented immigrants became deportable. Before the decriminalization, some street vendors would receive warnings of tickets. Others, however, faced arrest and criminal misdemeanor charges. That meant that anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 people were even more vulnerable under the Trump administration. But even with the decriminalization, it didn’t mean the vendors could feel completely safe.
Wednesday’s vote means that there’s now a system in place. Vendors have a set of rules they must follow, including picking up trash, not blocking access to the sidewalk, maintaining a certain distance from fire hydrants, driveways, and building entrances, and getting their businesses the proper permits, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The rules will go into effect in January, and for vendors, it means the chance to do their jobs without looming threat. “This means freedom,” said ice cream and hot dog vendor Aureliano Santiago to the LAT. “The police won’t pester us anymore. They’ll go after delinquents instead.”