On a notable Tuesday, February 6th, the Los Angeles City Council came together and unanimously agreed to scrap the age-old rules restricting street vending in the city. Until now, vendors dishing out local favorites like bacon-wrapped hot dogs and elotes were barred from plying their trade near landmarks such as the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Dodger Stadium. This recent vote has paved the way for a fresh ordinance, slated to kick in within the next 30 to 40 days, hinging on Mayor Karen Bass’s official seal of approval.

The push to overhaul these regulations began in October 2023, thanks to Councilman Paul Krekorian and Hugo Soto-Martinez. Soto-Martinez, representing areas including the Walk of Fame, Silver Lake, and Atwater Village, shared his perspective on the ordinance, highlighting a personal penchant for both the refined experience of brick-and-mortar dining and the simple joy of street food. “Choosing to grab a Taco from a street vendor is a deliberate choice for a specific culinary experience, distinct yet not inferior to a restaurant’s offering,” he remarked, adding a personal touch by mentioning his parents’ history as street vendors.

The road for street food vending has been long since California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 946 (SB-946 ) in 2018. SB-946 decriminalized the practice of street vending across the state and mandated local cities to create their own regulations. As a result, the Los Angeles City Council developed seven specific restricted zones that effectively banned street vending in the areas of the Los Angeles Coliseum, Convention Center\ L.A. Live, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, Universal Studios, Universal CityWalk, and the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.

Within moments of the city council’s restrictions, the Bureau of Street Services cited thriving areas for street food vendors around the Walk of Fame. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, one bacon-wrapped hot dog vendor was hit with at least 30 citations within two years, each bringing fines ranging from $100 to $500.

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Community organizations and street vendors collectively sued the city of Los Angeles in 2022, alleging that these certain no-vending zones directly conflicted with SB-946. The vendors stated that Los Angeles officials routinely and arbitrarily harassed street vendors operating in the restricted zones. A trial connected to the lawsuit is set to begin on February 15th, 2024, according to KTLA. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs reportedly asked the city to retract all citations issued to vendors operating in no-vending zones and immediately refund all fines paid.

Of course, the struggles surrounding street food vendors took place long before SB-946 was enacted. The Bureau of Street Services and former council member Mitch O’Farrell’s team put a “special enforcement zone” into place in July 2018, claiming that street food vendors are taking up too much sidewalk space and creating unsafe walkways for passersby. This latest progress signifies a change in local government and how street food vending is treated and viewed in Los Angeles.