LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved her motion on supporting legislation to modernize the California Retail Food Code to create opportunities for sidewalk food vendors:

“Sidewalk food vendors are essential to the economy, culture, and health of Los Angeles County. It provides immigrants and low-income workers with an opportunity to start from almost nothing and build businesses to support themselves and their families,” shared Chair Solis. “Unfortunately, the status quo is unfairly excluding vendors from the economy, delegitimizing their business model in ways that make them vulnerable to harassment and violent attacks, increasing risk of criminal citations and the attendant collateral consequences, and separating tens of thousands of food workers from the resources and support that come with a Public Health permit. But with this motion, we seek to find solutions in order to bring food workers into a system of food safety guidance and regulation.”

Beginning in 2019, Senate Bill 946 decriminalized sidewalk vending in California and established guidelines for local regulations to legalize and support the sidewalk vending economy. Since that time, the County has taken important steps to support sidewalk vendors and create economic opportunities. The Sidewalk Vending Pilot Program, led by the County’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), is currently convening County departments and key stakeholders to develop a strategy to increase the effectiveness of a sidewalk regulatory program and enhance economic development outcomes for sidewalk vending, including facilitating the design of a low-cost, code-compliant vending cart. It is anticipated that an ordinance establishing a County regulatory program for sidewalk vending will be presented to the Board in early 2022.

However, over the course of the Pilot Program, it has become apparent that certain outdated provisions in state law are impeding the County from achieving the goal of fully integrating sidewalk food vendors into the economy. Specifically, the California Retail Food Code impose restrictions and requirements that are not in alignment with the Board of Supervisors’ intent to support small-scale sidewalk vending, creating barriers for sidewalk food vendors to obtain a permit from the County’s Department of Public Health.

The motion approved today instructs the County’s Department of Public Health to report back in 120 days with strategies the Department can implement to improve sidewalk vendor access to permits. Additionally, the motion directs the County’s Chief Executive Office legislative advocates in Sacramento, in collaboration with County’s departments of Public Health, Consumer and Business Affairs, Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, and other relevant departments, to support legislation to enact changes to the California Retail Food Code that will make it more sensitive to the context of sidewalk food vending while ensuring food safety. The motion also directs the Department of Public Health to work in collaboration with the Chief Executive Office to identify resources and funding to necessary to carry out the above directives.

To view the full motion, click here.

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