PRESS RELEASE: COUNCILMEMBER RAMAN INTRODUCES RESOLUTION TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO STREET VENDING

For Immediate Release: September 28, 2021

COUNCILMEMBER RAMAN INTRODUCES RESOLUTION TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO STREET VENDING

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LOS ANGELES -- Today, Councilmember Nithya Raman introduced a resolution calling for changes to the California Retail Food Code to create a more inclusive, practical system for regulating food safety that realistically allows for sidewalk vendors to operate legally. 

Despite the City of Los Angeles decriminalizing sidewalk vending in 2017 and beginning a process to establish a vendor permitting system, the City continues to face barriers to formalizing its street vending economy — especially with regards to food vending. The California Retail Food Code (CRFC) and Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health (DPH) currently dictate food safety regulations in the City of Los Angeles and are the greatest obstacle to vendors securing necessary permits to legally vend.

“The number of food vendors in Los Angeles that have been issued permits -- a mere 165 out of the estimated 10,000 in our City -- speaks volumes as to the prohibitive nature of the current state and county food regulations,” said Councilmember Raman. “As a result, our vendors are forced to operate informally and face the threat of citations, fines, and the confiscation of the carts and wares that constitute their livelihood. We are calling on the State to enact structural solutions that can empower street food vendors to fully and formally participate in the economy.”

Research from institutions and non-profit organizations, such as the UCLA School of Law Community Economic Development Clinic and Public Counsel, shows that there are several changes that both the State and County can implement to make health compliance more feasible for vendors without compromising food safety. Councilmember Raman’s resolution calls for support for or sponsorship of legislation or administrative action from the State to enact such changes to the CRFC. These potential changes could include streamlining approvals for code-compliant carts, establishing clear and easy-to-follow safety protocols that account for the types of foods commonly sold by sidewalk vendors, and expanding the definition of safe locations for food preparation.

“Our report reveals how an outdated state law denies economic opportunity, weakens public health, and undermines local policy by unfairly preventing sidewalk vendors from obtaining permits to sell food,” said Doug Smith, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney at Public Counsel.  “With the City’s leadership, now is the time to modernize the California Retail Food Code to align public health with economic inclusion and fulfill the promise of legalizing street vending.”

 

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