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SYLMAR : Florists Angered as Illegal Sales Continue

Illegal curbside flower vendors were out in force in Sylmar over the Thanksgiving weekend, renewing complaints from florists and the Sylmar Chamber of Commerce.

“Basically, nothing has changed,” said florist Patrica Navarro of San Fernando Florist on Foothill Boulevard, which has fought the illicit curbside trade for months. “Something has to be done. It gets worse. This holiday doesn’t hurt us as much, because we don’t get as much walk-in business. But at Christmas, it can hurt us.”

The Los Angeles Police Department told flower-shop owners during meetings this fall that it doesn’t have the time or officers to concentrate on the illegal commerce.

“They say they don’t have the time, and I can’t help but agree with them,” said Frank Jacobs, president of the Sylmar Chamber of Commerce, who has led the battle against the vendors. “But it only takes a minute to roll down the window and say something to them. You don’t even have to issue a citation.”

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Battles over the vendors--most of them selling flowers--have become heated in the past. Store owners have knocked over vendors’ wares and chased them off, and vendors have fought back.

“I can’t control them much longer,” said Jacobs. “We’re going to have open fights soon.”

The Los Angeles City Council is considering an ordinance that would establish tightly regulated vending districts and an enforcement structure for sales outside the zones. Local chambers, such as Sylmar’s, have been weighing in on the ordinance, most of them against it.

Jacobs said he will try to get the council to include tough provisions in the proposed ordinance aimed at those who supply vendors outside of the legal zones with flowers and other goods. Several flower shops in the area are rumored to supply the vendors.

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