The 2021 My LA2050 Grants Challenge is here! We're giving away $1 million to make LA the best place to live, learn, play, create, and connect.

Learn more


Activation Grantee Update: LA Street Vendors Campaign

Posted September 18, 2019 by The LA Street Vendors Campaign Team

Beyond Legalization: The Implementation Phase of the LA Street Vendor Campaign

This is an update on the winning proposal from the CREATE category in the 2018 activation challenge. See the original proposal here.

Since we received the LA2050 grant in August 2018, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign reached a major milestone: Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in November 2018 to adopt a permit system for sidewalk vending, finally leading to the legalization of sidewalk vending within the City of LA!

The impact of this legislation is enormous. More than 50,000 street vendors operate in the City of Los Angeles alone, representing a $504 million industry. With legalization, we can expect to see these numbers grow as street vending becomes a safer way to make a living — especially for women and people of color.

For the campaign's core partners, East LA Community Corporation, Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC), and Public Counsel, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign has always been about both protecting the rights and dignity of some of the most vulnerable workers in the city, and providing them with greater economic opportunity. Approximately 80 percent of street vendors are women of color who contribute to the rich, diverse street food landscape through the informal economy — and when allowed to do their work legally and safely — contribute to the vitality of their neighborhoods and LA as a whole.

Take a look at this piece by KCET that covers the most recent history of our campaign and shares stories of vendors across the city.

The ordinance passed by City Hall will allow street vendors to do just that, and comes after nearly a decade of advocacy from thousands of street vendors and their supporters. But there's still much work to be done. Throughout 2019, we've focused our organizing efforts on three major components: ensuring the City of Los Angeles permit regulations are fair and inclusive; doing outreach to vendors across the region to make sure they know their rights under SB946, the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act; and, building the capacity of vendors by hosting workshops on healthy food and financial resources to make sure they are ready for the implementation of a permit program in 2020.

Click here to read our assessment of where the legalization policy stands now and where there is still work left to be done.

What's next? Summits, workshops, and success

On Friday, March 22, 2019 hundreds of local street vendors filled the cafeteria and classrooms of Los Angeles Trade Technical College. This was the First Street Vendor Summit hosted since we won legalization. It provided vendors from across LA County with several workshops on how to become a successful vendor under the new rules and regulations passed by the City. There were four major topics covered by the workshops:

  • The nitty gritty of the new Sidewalk Rules and Regulations in the City of Los Angeles from the Bureau of Street Services, helping vendors understand where they can set up, how much space they can use, if they need a permit yet, and more.
  • How to comply with food safety regulations of the Department of Public Health, who regulates food vending throughout the County of Los Angeles;
  • What resources are available to vendors who are looking to build their businesses or buy permitted equipment;
  • And most importantly, a Know Your Rights workshop that gave details to vendors on what their rights are under SB 946, and how they can appropriately respond to harassment from many different parties.

After the summit, we began a series of five capacity-building workshops. We held three workshops on healthy food menus, health equity and food justice, and two on financial planning so that vendors can plan for new carts and permits. Through this, we were able to provide information and resources to 120 vendors. In this implementation phase, we are learning so much more about the people we have been advocating for; and they are teaching us more intimately their needs, empowering us to ensure their livelihoods are always at the forefront of policy, advocacy, and capacity building. We will host another series of workshops and clinics in late summer and early fall that will support vendors with the basics of operating a legitimate business, including obtaining seller's permits and food handling licenses.

What we learned

This summit and workshops were not only a learning experience for the vendors, but also one for us. It reignited some of our longstanding concerns and highlighted that it will take all of us - vendors, consumers, advocates, and allies - to make sure that vendors are properly and responsibly brought into the formal economy. We put these lessons into a summary sheet to get the word out about our concerns and our hopes for the future. These concerns also guided conversations at the coalition meeting on July 18, where 25 organizations re-committed to engage during this phase of the campaign by working on issues related to park vending, cart innovation, outreach, and continued policy advocacy. The coalition will continue to organize and work with vendors to develop vendor based solutions to these concerns, and we will continue to engage public agencies to work on improving the legal vending program.

Digital advocacy

To uplift the work that vendors and allies have done to legalize street vending, we launched a digital advocacy campaign this month to spread awareness of street vending by sharing stories of “Vendors in Action." Through highlighting why they vend and celebrating their contributions to the fabric of our city, we hope to showcase how vendors are both entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities. This will activate people who are both familiar and unfamiliar with street vendors in LA. This campaign will be using a fixed set of hashtags in both Spanish and English to reach as many people as possible, and ideally create a social media movement to demystify street vending and further normalize their entrepreneurship and leadership in our city.

We will continue to define and measure our success through the number of new micro-enterprise jobs that are created as a result of legalization, and the number of existing vendors that are trained to manage their businesses, and eventually, navigate the new permit process. We will also continue to tell the story of the LA Street Vendor Movement, and track our progress through engagement on social media. We will continue the digital advocacy campaign through June, and then have another push in August to showcase new work on rules and regulations.

We're thrilled to be sharing this critical moment in the campaign with everyone involved in the LA2050 Activation Challenge. This grant allows us to activate Angelenos to engage in and build an inclusive economy that supports tens of thousands of workers, whose entrepreneurship often shapes our neighborhood economies and cultural landscape.

For more information on the campaign and/or to get involved in supporing #LAStreetVendors, contact Carla De Paz [email protected]