Los Angeles Moves to Decriminalize Sidewalk Vending

Fear of an immigration crackdown sparks local action.



I'll say one thing for Donald Trump's executive orders on immigration: They've spurred some welcome reactions at the more local levels of government. Los Angeles has a history of hitting unlicensed sidewalk vendors with criminal charges. But yesterday, not wanting the proprietors of tamale carts or T-shirt stands to be deported for their misdemeanors, the city council voted to draft an ordinance to decriminalize such enterprises.

Emily Alpert Reyes explains in the Los Angeles Times:

City attorneys will now draw up new rules that would strip those criminal penalties and authorize the city to eventually issue vending permits, a first step toward legalization….In the meantime, vendors who ply their trade on city sidewalks could still be cited and fined for violating the municipal code, but they would not face criminal convictions.

Lawyers are also supposed to report back on whether the city can offer amnesty to vendors already facing criminal charges. Though lesser citations are much more common, city prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges for sidewalk vending in more than two dozen cases between October 2015 and October 2016, according to the city attorney's office.

Obviously, that's good news if you're facing such charges, especially if you're running the risk of deportation. But it's also good news for any Angelenos who want to launch one of these micro-businesses, regardless of their immigration status. And it's good news for consumers, who will have more and cheaper choices. It may not be the taco truck on every corner that we were promised, but I'll take it.

Bonus video: The Battle of the Bacon Dogs.