Los Angeles is a culinary wonderland. New, exciting restaurants seem to be opening faster than one can finish a meal. But not everyone is sharing in this bounty. In this installment of Making L.A., Press Play takes a closer look at what’s happening with the food scene and food policy — and what’s going to happen to the street vendors?
“We’re such a layered population in terms of both the racial, ethnic, cultural diversity and the economic diversity; and this plays out in the food scene and I think that our geographic extensiveness really gives us an incredible amount of opportunity,” Good Food host Evan Kleiman told Madeleine Brand. However, she would like to see restauranteurs get out of the hip neighborhoods (think: Downtown LA) and open smaller, more affordable neighborhood eateries.
At the same time, there’s a real need from a policy standpoint to address things like urban farming and street vending. While street vendors are filling a neighborhood void – setting up carts where they can serve a niche population – they are still illegal. “If you look at where street vendors hang out, very few of them are hanging out right in front of a brick and mortar restaurant that’s serving the same kind of food,” said Kleiman.
Clare Fox, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council explained that with over 50 thousand street vendors, there’s a strong informal economy. And this presents a challenge. Fox hopes that a vending policy will be in place by the end of the year. “Sidewalk vendors have organized themselves and are articulating a vision for a policy solution, they’re basically saying, we want in,” she said. “What we need is a very clear sidewalk vending policy for the city of Los Angeles.”