Sidewalk Vending Occupies Pedestrian Pathways and Pays No Taxes

This street vendor sets up in front of Ralph’s store on the public sidewalk. According to the law, the vendor must ensure five feet for public right of way.

One resident wrote CTN: “Here is a photo of the local carne asada street vendor setting up shop on Sunset in front of Ralph’s at 3 p.m. on Tuesday blocking the sidewalk. Business is so good that the vendor now operates on Mondays.”

As one “enlightened” member of the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) asked in the January 25 meeting where street vending was discussed, “What’s wrong with street vendors? They provide food to housekeepers and gardeners who can’t afford our restaurants.”

One of the topics covered at the PPCC meeting was street vending, and Rad Nowroozi (Senator Ben Allen’s District Representative) reported that: the state wishes to enable economic and entrepreneurial opportunity to underserved populations for whom street vending is a viable source of small business income.

On September 17, 2018, former Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 946, which is also known as the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act. This law decriminalizes sidewalk vending in California and allows local authorities to adopt non-criminal laws to protect public health, safety and welfare. Senator Allen voted in favor of the bill when it passed in August 2018.

According to the Act, a sidewalk vendor is a person who sells food or merchandise on a sidewalk or pedestrian path. It does not apply to food trucks or anything with a motor.

What does this mean for local small businesses that pay for brick-and-mortar permits, licensing and pay taxes? While they pay taxes, which support local and state government, it appears that vendors pay no taxes: it is generally a cash operation.

According to the law, local authorities cannot require sidewalk vendors to operate in a specific area, prohibit vendors from operating in public parks or restrict the number of sidewalk vendors.

Local authorities can: limit the hours of operation, prohibit stationary sidewalk vending in residential areas, prohibit sidewalk vending near farmers’ markets, require sanitary conditions, require vendors to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (cannot block ramps), require a permit or license and request information about the business’ operations (name, mailing address, type of sale.)

Currently, if there are concerns about obstruction of the public right of way, residents can report the location to the city’s 311 system, so that the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) can investigate.

If there is concern over the health and safety of the food being prepared or served, residents can alert the County Health department.

If there is concern about a fire hazard, particularly in the Palisades Very High Fire Severity Zone, the Los Angeles Fire Department may be alerted.

What happens to vendors not in compliance with public right of way and health issues? According to speakers at the PPCC meeting, the most that might happen is the food is taken away.

 (Editor’s note: to the “rich” people in the Palisades, who have little or no concept of poverty, those who live on limited incomes, generally do not buy from vendors, they pack lunches, which is more cost effective. The people in the lines are often those who don’t want to spend money at local establishments or think it’s “fun” to eat on the street.)

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2 Responses to Sidewalk Vending Occupies Pedestrian Pathways and Pays No Taxes

  1. Michael says:

    The majority of the people I see eating at this stand are hispanic – housekeepers, day laborers and blue collar workers. How much time have you spent observing the site?

  2. Jon Taylor says:

    There are affordable restaurant options in Pacific Palisades. Street vendors are stealing their customers, don’t pay taxes, and don’t have bathrooms for their employees to wash their hands. Check out Fiesta Feast on Sunset Blvd. for a good cheap eat.

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