Several street vendors in Los Angeles have joined forces to protest city-issued citations. The legal team representing the vendors has said that the citations are a form of discrimination and harassment.

Alejandra Rodriguez, a vendor who sells food along Hollywood Boulevard, said she has been cited more than 50 times. She claims that someone regularly takes pictures of her as she works, even though she is in a prohibited location.

The vendors are working with Community Power Collective, an organization that helps low-income workers and tenants. A representative of the Collective, Sergio Jimenez, has said that the frequent changes to the guidelines and regulations surrounding street vendors have created confusion for these small businesses. He said Hollywood Boulevard was one of seven places in the city designated no-vending zones before the Sidewalk Vending Ordinance passed. Still, the passage of the ordinance has changed that.

The Sidewalk Vending Ordinance, which Mayor Karen Bass signed in February, is meant to create a county-wide vending program to establish an “open-air economy” for businesses and vendors and “decriminalize” vending under a bill passed in 2019.

The ordinance has been signed but will go into effect in August. During the delay, the county is meant to set up a sidewalk vendor certification program and an annual fee for such vendors. According to a release by Los Angeles County, the ordinance is intended to “allow local authorities to develop guidelines and infrastructure to formalize the sidewalk vending industry.”

These street vendors have said they continue to be cited even after the bill’s passage. The reasons behind these citations are only sometimes for vending in prohibited areas. According to the street vendors who have received them, the violations behind the citations include setting up too close to a red curb or too close to other vendors. The group’s attorney has alleged that the tickets are a form of discriminatory harassment.

“A lot of times, the vendors we are in touch with are not even getting tickets in their hand,” said the group’s attorney, Ritu Mahajan. “It’s mailed to them weeks later in bunches, with dates on the tickets that they were not even vending.”

“What we are seeing now is a modification of the citations from the Bureau of Street Services of LA,” said Jimenez of Community Power Collective, “Who enforce the rules of the vending ordinance.”

Mahajan, part of a non-profit legal team working with Community Power Collective and the vendors, has said that a lawsuit filed against the city is scheduled to go to court on May 16. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement from the vendors. In a statement sent to NBC4, the legal team said, “We hope to resolve the remaining critical issues that the City has failed to address, including hundreds of outstanding citations for operating in the now-repealed ‘no-vending’ zones, overbroad and unjustified distancing requirements from swap meets, farmers markets, and schools, and a lack of assurances that future regulations will be lawful and inclusive… Given the number of citations issued over the past five years, the Parties must ensure that all citations are fully rescinded and refunded to these business owners.”