Citing President-elect Trump, L.A. City Council members announce policy to protect immigrant street vendors
A proposal to decriminalize sidewalk vending in Los Angeles is scheduled to be taken up next month, prompted by concerns that people who are in the country illegally and convicted of misdemeanors for street peddling could be deported when Donald Trump assumes the presidency.
The plan, which has been in the works for more than a year, would remove criminal penalties for vending. In addition, the proposal would make it so that vendors seeking a permit would no longer be asked about their immigration or citizenship status.
Councilmen Curren Price and Joe Buscaino announced the proposed policy, stating that a Dec. 12 public hearing on the issues is scheduled at City Hall.
The plan needs approval from the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee before it’s considered by the entire City Council.
The move comes after years of pressure and organizing by activists who say city officials are unfairly targeting, criminalizing and imposing punitive barriers on vendors who are simply trying to eke out a living.
Price, who first introduced the motion to establish a sidewalk vending policy three years ago, said protecting the rights of every person in his district is important, regardless of immigration status. About 80% of his constituents are Latino.
“This has been an issue we have been working on for the past several years. It’s certainly gotten increased focus because of the statements made by our president-elect,” he said. “We’re working to decriminalize street vending activity.”
He called the proposal a “fair and smart” sidewalk vending policy framework that would be good for consumers and vendors, without harming brick-and-mortar businesses. The proposal also calls for community-based organizations to provide outreach and assistance to vendors on how to comply with the law.
Buscaino, who was an LAPD officer for 15 years, said he was tasked with addressing street vending in the city and made arrests himself. But he said arresting and jailing street vendors is ineffective. The key is forming a street vending ordinance that works for everyone involved, he said.
“We have street vendors today in the city that are vulnerable,” Buscaino said. “We want to make sure that with this administration coming, that we can make them less vulnerable. These are individuals who are providing for their families and doing everything they can to put food on the table.”
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