Los Angeles

Los Angeles Isn't Fighting Poverty—It's Criminalizing It

Vendors at parks and beaches targeted with new ordinance.

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Los Angeles prepares to create a black market for bracelets.
Credit: majunznk / photo on flickr

The sidewalk along Venice Beach is lined with street vendors selling all sorts of knick-knacks, homemade jewelry, artwork, and what have you. It is an avenue for survival for those who are uninterested, unable, or lack the skills to participate in the more conventional job market.

But their ranks may be getting thinner. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban unpermitted vending at parks and beaches. From the Los Angeles Times:

The decision amplified the enduring debate over the virtues and problems of street vending in Los Angeles. This time around, the debate pitted those who see mobile vending as an economic lifeline vital to a diverse and thriving metropolis against others worried about the commercialization of green space and the legal risk for the city in allowing unlicensed enterprise.

As lawmakers revive the restrictions at parks and beaches, city leaders are still wrestling with the larger question of how to regulate what are estimated to be tens of thousands of vendors who make their living on L.A. sidewalks, routinely playing a cat-and-mouse game with local police. Local activists pushing to legalize the pushcarts that speckle L.A. sidewalks argued it made little sense to reinstate the ban in parks and beaches while city leaders pondered allowing sidewalk vending citywide.

"It's short-sighted," said Joseph Villela, director of policy and advocacy for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. "It continues to do something that hasn't worked."

Only two City Council members voted against the proposal, which would call for escalating fines and even possibly misdemeanor charges. One of the opposing councilmembers, Gil Cedillo, worried that these charges could prevent immigrants who survive via park and beach vending from seeking citizenship.

And the city's massive minimum wage increase—eventually $15 an hour—is a done deal. Mayor Eric Garcetti signed the ordinance into law over the weekend. Los Angeles County is now considering the same. Those who find themselves shoved out of possible avenues into the job market because of the higher barriers to entry are going to find it much harder to legally pursue alternative means of getting by. One park vendor told the Times she could end up homeless if this ordinance passes.

Oh, and if the vendor does end up homeless, the City Council is also moving forward with an ordinance to make it easier to seize and destroy her belongings. The city right now gives homeless people 72 hours' warning before seizing their belongings if they're taking up space on sidewalks or in parks. The new law gives them just 24 hours' notice and lets them seize big items like tables and couches without warning.

The law is actually an improvement over how things used to be. Los Angeles used to just seize and destroy homeless people's property with no notice at all until a federal appeals court put a stop to it in 2012. The homeless still get due process. Now they get 90 days to collect whatever the city has grabbed from them. 

NEXT: Claiming to Smell Pot, Airport Cops Steal $11,000 From College Student

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  1. One of the opposing councilmembers, Gil Cedillo, worried that these charges could prevent immigrants who survive via park and beach vending from seeking citizenship.

    Huh. Immigrants hardest hit.

  2. So is California actively trying to turn the entire state into a ghost town, or are they so stupid they’re convinced that what they’re doing is helping?

    1. Yes

  3. Look, you can’t just be helping yourself. Only the ruling class can decide how you should be helped. And that mostly involves stealing money and redistributing what’s left of it after they take their cut.

  4. We should all be taking notes on how to construct the optimal community.

    1. “I wish Los Angeles hadn’t collapsed. I could use it as a guide for how to run my city — anything Los Angeles did, I would do the exact opposite.”

      Future Mayor somewhere

  5. Thank God we have dedicated city councilors across this great, big, diverse continent to help and protect the poor and disadvantaged.

    Phew.

    1. Look at the bright side! They haven’t started installing iron spikes along the beach fronts, like the Brits.

  6. …others worried about the commercialization of green space…

    Commercialization? Green space? Venice Beach?

    Are they kidding?

    1. Progs like empty “green space” more than they like people.

    2. Like the green space that’s going to happen in Detroit after all the abandoned buildings fall down.

  7. and if the vendor does end up homeless, the City Council is also moving forward with an ordinance to make it easier to seize and destroy her belongings. The city right now gives homeless people 72 hours’ warning before seizing their belongings if they’re taking up space on sidewalks or in parks. The new law gives them just 24 hours’ notice and lets them seize big items like tables and couches without warning.

    Compassionate Democrats

    /neilpeart

  8. Venice is a tourist mecca, but the attraction escapes me.

    I suppose its maintained its reputation as a place where Americans from flyover country can come watch the freaks–from the muscle boys and Krishnas to the Elvis impersonating Sikh on roller skates and the homeless people who walk on broken glass for tourists… And so they can buy a crappy t-shit to show their friends they went there.

    I don’t understand why people like that shit, but they do! Why kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? If it wasn’t for all that crap, Venice would be a funky, overpriced, gang infested, shithole.

    The progressives won’t stop until they’ve ruined everything.

    1. This. And since the tourists love it, they stay away from my more beloved parts of the state.

      1. God knows we don’t want them in the Beach Cities.

        There’s no reason to go the Beach Cities. It’s right next to the airport. There’s nothing to see or do. There’s certainly no reason to bring a surfboard. Or a bicycle, skateboard, blades…nah.

        Yeah, better go to Venice. That’s where the Beats and Jim Morrison used to hang out!

        Or go to Hollywood! But my advice is to just stay away from the Beach Cities, it’s terrible, horrible, awful, awful place. Full of gangs and there isn’t a freeway anywhere nearby. I don’t understand why anyone would want to go there.

    2. Follow the money. Someone looking to bump up their property value got the ear of the council.

  9. Thank god, now we can blame the poor’s plight on the market and ask for moar gubmnit

  10. “Nobody sells nuthin’ in this part of town what da boss don’t get his cut. Otherwise…”

  11. It is an avenue for survival for those who are uninterested, unable, or lack the skills to participate in the more conventional job market.

    Innovation and imaginative entrepreneurship must be stamped out. For the children drones and bureaucrats.

  12. Where’s Tulpa?
    WHO WILL SPEAK IN BEHALF OF THE DOWNTRODDEN BRICK AND MORTAR MERCHANTS?!

  13. Everyone knows that things cease to exist when you make them illegal. Duh.

  14. And the city’s massive minimum wage increase?eventually $15 an hour?is a done deal.

    Cue businesses vacating the city.

    The new law gives them just 24 hours’ notice and lets them seize big items like tables and couches without warning.

    If you are not sufficiently homeless, the government can make you more homeless.

  15. Ah yes, I once found my penis lying on a blanket next to a broken toaster oven. Some guy was selling it. I had to buy it off him. He wanted 22 bucks but I talked him down to 17. I took it home, washed off, and put it back on.

    I was happy again, complete.

    1. +1 King Missle

  16. So now they have outlawed Deadheads from peddling their wares. Sounds like the Occupy Wallstreet movement missed their real problem. Its government that wants to end their liberal, lawless lazy lifestyle – not free enterprise. Its all about tax dollars – and the impossibility of collecting them from these free enterprise free spirits.

  17. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……
    http://www.freelance-cash.com

  18. can any of those city hooh hahs ‘splain it to me how the city incurs liability because street vendors? If I buy a car and we agree to meet for the transaction on city property (beach parking lot, for instance) make the deal and on the way home the car has some catactrophic failure can I then sue the city for owning the plce where the sale took place? How stupid can these guys be?

  19. I usually love Reason articles but this one missed the mark. First off, the law takes aim at vendors without permits. Second, I lived on Venice Beach for two years, volunteered on Skid Row for four, and completely support this law. Many of the vendors are transients who smoke weed and refuse to work. I would speak with these people on a regular basis during my bike ride to/from work. They asked for money, weed and beer, yet refused to work when I said I’d pay them to clean up my front patio. They would pee, poop, drink, smoke and sleep in my driveway with entitled attitudes when asked to leave. Their belongings are strewn about Venice Beach, ruin the grass and are health/safety concerns. There are options for the homeless, unfortunately many of these people are homeless by choice.

    1. Yep, that’s what made America great bess. Permits

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