Food Freedom

California Finally Legalizes Street Vending

The Trump administration's deportation push finally forced the Golden State to stop criminalizing everything.

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L.A. street vendors
AURELIA VENTURA/LA OPINION/Newscom

Rejoice, California street vendors! Soon you will face much less nasty government harassment and criminalization for plying your trade. In a roundabout way, you can thank Pres. Donald Trump for your new freedoms.

Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law SB 946. This bill, sponsored by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D–Bell Gardens), formally legalizes sidewalk vending within California and forbids cities from completely banning street merchants.

Sadly, it's not a free-market free-for-all. Cities and counties can still regulate and license vendors for public safety and welfare concerns and will have some controls over time and place. But the law makes it clear municipalities can't confine sidewalk vendors to certain neighborhoods or ban them entirely.

It's a significant development for the many California residents—many of them immigrants—who want to earn a living without being harassed by police, arrested, or having their property destroyed. (Remember the University of California police officer in Berkeley shutting down an unlicensed hot dog vendor and taking his money? The Los Angeles war on bacon-wrapped hot dogs?)

Los Angeles finally started loosening its grip and formally passing regulations to allow legal street vending earlier this year. Mind you, there's street vending all over Los Angeles regardless of its criminality. The law was essentially a stamp of approval on something the city couldn't control anyway. You can still get those delicious hot dogs at stands literally outside the courthouses in downtown Los Angeles right now. The big difference is that now capricious and random enforcement is no longer a looming threat.

What seems to finally have forced both the city of Los Angeles and the Golden State itself to get with the freedom agenda is Trump's deportation program. After Trump's election, Los Angeles city leaders realized that arresting and locking up poor immigrants for street vending could be used as a pretext for federal officials to round them up and deport them. That awareness seems to have made its way to the statehouse, where pols are eager to preserve California's status as a sanctuary state.

SB 946 also helps to take care of those previous crackdowns by dismissing all current cases being prosecuted and allowing persons who had previously been convicted to petition for dismissal. And further, the law requires that future enforcement of street vending regulations be handled by administrative fines, not misdemeanor charges.

All in all, this is a very good bill for economic and food freedom and we should celebrate its passage. (And thank Trump, I guess?)

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  1. Without having to dive in and read legalese, does this only apply to sidewalks / food carts, or does it cover food trucks too?

    1. From the Bill:

      (a) “Sidewalk vendor” means a person who sells food or merchandise from a pushcart, stand, display, pedal-driven cart, wagon, showcase, rack, or other nonmotorized conveyance, or from one’s person, upon a public sidewalk or other pedestrian path.

      1. Thanks. The “street vending” phrases confused the issue.

      2. “or from one’s person”

        I realize some people might be interested in buying pants dogs off the street, but is selling skirt tacos on the street corner legal now too?

      3. Can the merchandise include, you know, certain body parts?

  2. See? Hillary wouldn’t have brought this level of market freedom.

  3. Maybe someday, Commifornia will legalize straws.

    1. President Trump should put a tariff on them and threaten to deport any illegally imported straws.

      1. Or put a tariff on illegal immigrants and deport all straws.

  4. (Remember the University of California police officer in Berkeley shutting down an unlicensed hot dog vendor and taking his money? The Los Angeles war on bacon-wrapped hot dogs?)

    Oh, I remember. And no amount of pills, therapy sessions, and VA disability payouts can make me forget.

    1. That reminds me of my time in a federal courthouse in LA. I ended up there after it took a few minutes for the Drug Enforcement Agency employees to realize that I wasn’t walking out of their LA office door until they gave me a license to open a medical marijuana dispensary. To be frank, the feds aren’t as scary as a moody Jewish woman. Oye.

      1. So you were at the front too? What unit were you in? I was with the 127th, stationed at the Palos Verdes trenches.

  5. Back to open borders tomorrow.

    Roach Coaches are legal now!

    1. I had just been going to point out that, except for environmental regulations, banning things in California has largely been a Republican sport. California Cop Culture comes so much from the right-wing governors of the 70s, 80s, and early 90s getting tough on everything and everybody and putting 5x as many people in prison as we’d had before, building lots of prisons to put them in, hiring lots of prison guards, and then complaining that they don’t want to raise taxes to pay for the pensions and pay of all those new guards, overcrowding prisons, banning people from driving based on whether their papers were in order instead of on whether they could drive safely, banning drug after drug.

      And now somebody who pretends to like the Constitution looks like he doesn’t know that it doesn’t give Congress the power to ban immigration.

      1. Just so many lies in one of your comments.

  6. So to get California to soften regulations, it takes a Republican to threaten regulating harder? This is an interesting turn of events, but one I’ll take.

    1. Not regulating harder, but rather, enforcing the laws on the books.

      1. Re: sharmota4zeb,

        Not regulating harder, but rather, enforcing the laws on the books.

        Which, knowing how laws are made, is not always a good idea. Especially if the laws go against economic law or reality itself, which is where Trumpistas are now – in an alternate reality.

  7. What seems to finally have forced both the city of Los Angeles and the Golden State itself to get with the freedom agenda is Trump’s deportation program. After Trump’s election, Los Angeles city leaders realized that arresting and locking up poor immigrants for street vending could be used as a pretext for federal officials to round them up and deport them. That awareness seems to have made its way to the statehouse, where pols are eager to preserve California’s status as a sanctuary state.

    It’s the old, “You can’t hit my younger brother. Only I’m a allowed to hit my younger brother,” argument.

  8. Had a fun roach coach incident in the Navy. On duty days, we were still allowed to go to the roach coach on the pier, and once you’ve eaten at the same restaurant three times a day for a year, anything is better than mess deck food, no matter how good it was.

    One evening we noticed a baked-in cockroach just half an inch from the last bite of someone’s pizza. Immediately all uneaten pizza went into the trash, and mess deck food seemed mighty good again.

    A week later, back to the roach coach. Sure seemed mighty good again, for some reason. We just checked things more carefully.

    1. What ship and where? I am still in now, currently on an amphib in San Diego.

      1. Great White Ghost for me.

  9. After Trump’s election, Los Angeles city leaders realized that arresting and locking up poor immigrants for street vending could be used as a pretext for federal officials to round them up and deport them.

    Like pinning yellow stars on to the coal lapels of those other persecuted people…

    Haters share a common theme.

    And further, the law requires that future enforcement of street vending regulations be handled by administrative fines, not misdemeanor charges.

    “We won’t take your property – or your children, any more!”

    It’s a good day for liberty.

  10. >>>arresting and locking up poor immigrants for street vending could be used as a pretext

    dicks! getting rid of our voters!

    sad thing is time was we’d go to TJ just to get street food … wtf is a border?

  11. California legalizing street vending?
    The bastards!
    Don’t they know a lot of lazy, incompetent bureaucrats will not lose a shit load of money because these vendors are not licensed?
    What’s this country coming to?

  12. There are few things more glorious than a bacon-wrapped hot dog when you are walking out of a concert at midnight.

  13. Wait. That cop doesn’t have to give that money back to the hot dog vendor, does he? No backsies. Right?

  14. you can thank Pres. Donald Trump for your new freedoms.

    #MAGA

  15. Gosh – I hope that there are pages and pages of forms to fill out and fees that are charged for each page.

    1. It’s a legalized shakedown.

  16. Not my party. I’d thank the LP instead. Seriously, if Trump were to declare breathing legal in California, hundreds would suffocate out of pure spite (no big loss).

  17. “What seems to finally have forced both the city of Los Angeles and the Golden State itself to get with the freedom agenda is Trump’s deportation program.”

    This is seriously the most asinine reason to do anything ever. Hank Philipps above me is right ;P

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