L.A. is taking a harder line on illegal street vending

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streetvending2Have you bought a bacon-wrapped hot dog or a bag of cherries recently from one of the thousands of vendors who ply L.A. streets, parks and beaches?

Vending carts are a staple of L.A.’s underground economy – and a source of income for newly arrived immigrants and others with few other job prospects. But they are also illegal.

reinstate its ban on vendors at parks and beaches. Sidewalks are also off limits. The park and beach ban hadn’t been enforced for the past couple of years because of a pair of lawsuits. But those suits have been resolved and now the council says it plans to draw up a fresh set of guidelines that would impose escalating fines and possibly even misdemeanor charges for illegal vending.streetvending

Backers of street vendors say L.A. is cutting off a vital economic lifeline for some of the region’s poorest resident by criminalizing their livelihoods.

But proponents of stricter vending rules say the pushcarts are a blight – especially in the city’s green spaces – and that their commercial activity puts the city at legal risk if somebody, say, gets sick from eating a bad pupusa.

Street vending may not remain completely off limits. The city is holding hearings to solicit input about when and where street vendors should be allowed to sell their goods. The latest meeting is tonight at 6 p.m. at L.A. City Hall.