For street vendors in California, just trying to do their job has come with physical harassment and punishment. But as activists and vendors push have fought for their rights, the state has started to make some improvements. On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will make street vendors’ life easier and will make it so there’s a limit on when they can be criminally prosecuted. It will also allow cities and counties across the state to create vendor programs.
“We can start seeing sidewalk vendors for who they are – women and seniors, single parents, and micro-business owners taking that first step to starting their own business,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, who authored the bill, SB946. “Gov. Brown’s signature validates that thousands of sidewalk vendors are an important part of our economy.”
In Los Angeles, street vending has been decriminalized in the last few years. And while it still hasn’t perfected the system to protect the vendors – many of whom are immigrants – the move came as a result of President Donald Trump’s election. In February 2017, shortly after his inauguration, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city had voted to draft a law decriminalizing street vending. With the Trump Administration looking to arrest a larger number of undocumented immigrants – including those that hadn’t committed violent crimes – this move was supposed to protect this vulnerable community.