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Street Vendor Campaign Moving LA Toward a More Inclusive Economy

Posted March 1, 2019 by LA Street Vendor Campaign

Written by the LA Street Vendor Campaign, a collaboration between ELACC, LURN, LA Food Policy Council, and Public Counsel, and provided to LA2050 as part of their mid-year report.

The second half of 2018 was monumental for the LA Street Vendor Campaign with the LA City Council's historic vote to legalize street vending in the City through a permit process. Just a couple months before the City of LA's vote, Governor Brown signed into law SB946 Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (Lara), which legalized vending statewide. These two significant milestones in the street vending movement came after nearly a decade of advocacy from thousands of street vendors and their supporters.

The impact of this legislation is huge. Over 50,000 street vendors operate in Los Angeles alone, representing a $504 million industry. 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.

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.

Our LA2050 activation has three main pathways to engage over 100,000 Angelenos in supporting a more inclusive economy. 1) dynamic public outreach campaign on social media informing Angelenos about street vending; 2) in person participation at public hearings, events and activities; 3) direct action by participating in a #supportLAstreetvendors #buycott.

We connected the #buycott to Small Business Saturday 2018, engaging 40,879 followers on twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. More than 400 street vendors, allies, and supporters filled the LA City Hall Chamber on November 28th, 2018 for the historic vote and then celebrated on City Hall South's steps, chanting “Si Se Pudo."

Through the in-person participation and social media activation led by campaign anchor partners East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC), and Public Counsel, over 40,000 Angelenos were activated and engaged in making their city a place where street vendors can thrive. The LA Street Vendor Campaign is reaching people across the country with nationwide coverage including the New York Times with a photo journal story: L.A. Street Sellers Outlawed No More.

However, our journey to build an inclusive economy for our community doesn't end with these monumental wins. We will continue to fight for a City that values and supports street vendors with the best possible policies, and sees them as contributors to the economic and cultural tapestry of Los Angeles.

In 2019, we continue our community organizing with street vendors to ensure the City of Los Angeles permit regulations are fair and inclusive. Efforts will include outreach to vendors across the Los Angeles region to ensure they know their rights under SB946 Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (Lara). Additional goals include incentivizing vendors to sell healthy food in neighborhoods without access to fresh fruits and vegetables and developing a stronger non-profit infrastructure to support merchants, such as partnerships that legitimize vendors within farmer's markets across the City.

We have also begun engaging the local business community. Over the last few months, our team has been working closely with the County Health Department and local manufacturers to design affordable food carts that vendors could use as part of the new regulatory system. We've also been working together with our public sector partners to plan how we can make sure there is a clear pathway for vendors to comply with new “rules and regulations" so they can comfortably enter the formal economy and participate in Los Angeles' economy as important stakeholders. This work will be a priority for 2019. To create a truly inclusive economy, we believe we must work with public, private, and nonprofit partners.

In an era where more of our workforce is in the informal economy with zero protections and safety nets for emergencies, organizing for a street vendor movement is critical to building local solutions that can scale up and reach thousands of precarious workers across Los Angeles and beyond. To learn more about how the informal economy is touching the lives of people in California, check out KCET's City Rising, featuring the LA Street Vendor Campaign.

We're thrilled to share this incredible milestone 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 thousands of workers, whose entrepreneurship contributes to our neighborhood economies and cultural landscape.