PRESS RELEASE: COUNCILMEMBER RAMAN’S RESOLUTION TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO STREET VENDING ADOPTED BY LA CITY COUNCIL

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2021

COUNCILMEMBER RAMAN’S RESOLUTION TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO STREET VENDING ADOPTED BY LA CITY COUNCIL

LOS ANGELES -- Today, the City Council adopted Councilmember Raman’s resolution (Council File 21-0002-S170) to remove the greatest obstacle to street food vendors securing permits to legally vend in the City of Los Angeles, the food safety regulations set by the California Retail Food Code (CRFC). Councilmember Raman’s resolution calls on the California State legislature to amend the CRFC to be more inclusive and take into consideration the realities of sidewalk vending.

“Our City’s street food vendors are currently forced to navigate a food regulation system that was never designed with them in mind. The requirements they are subject to are often logistically impossible for sidewalk vending, prohibitively expensive, or both,” said Councilmember Raman. “We must make structural changes to empower street food vendors to fully and formally participate in the economy, starting at the State level.”

The California Retail Food Code (CRFC), reflected in the regulations set by the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health (DPH), dictates food safety regulations in the City of Los Angeles. To receive a vending permit in the City of LA, food vendors must also secure a health permit from DPH, with requirements for compliance that are costly or impractical for vendors, such as the prohibition of slicing fruits on site. 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. 

“Our report reveals how an outdated state law denies economic opportunity, weakens public health, and undermines local policy by unfairly preventing sidewalk vendors from obtaining permits to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, Senior Supervising Attorney at Public Counsel and one of the authors of the report. “Instead of upholding this unjust exclusion, our laws should instead reflect the reality that sidewalk food vendors are an important source of joy and nourishment in our neighborhoods and an indispensable part of our culture and economy. We applaud the leadership of Councilmembers Raman and Price for initiating this step to help modernize the California Retail Food Code to align public health with economic inclusion and fulfill the promise of legalizing street vending.”

Possible changes, drawn from detailed recommendations in a report by Public Counsel, the UCLA School of Law Community Economic Development Clinic, and Inclusive Action, 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.

With the adoption of Councilmember Raman’s Resolution, the City of Los Angeles will include its support for changes to the CRFC that will make it more sensitive to the context of sidewalk vending while ensuring food safety in its 2021-2022 State Legislative Program.

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