A growing industry throughout California, sidewalk vending offers many people, but especially women and immigrants, a chance to earn a living. In response, today the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to launch a pilot program that will promote public safety while expanding economic opportunity for sidewalk vendors.

“Sidewalk vendors and small brick-and-mortar businesses are entrepreneurs who sustain and drive our local economy and there is room for both. As a former U. S. Secretary of Labor, I value the entrepreneurial spirit of sidewalk vendors and small businesses,” said Supervisor Solis. “Today’s action recognizes that outdoor commerce allows people to earn a livelihood, and it especially helps immigrant women move toward economic independence. My Board motion identifies a pathway that safeguards public health while encouraging all businesses to grow and thrive.”

When the state Safe Sidewalk Vending Act (SB 946) took effect on Jan. 1, 2019, it loosened restrictions on sidewalk vending regulations. The state bill encouraged local governments to adopt requirements tailored to their jurisdiction. It also defined a sidewalk vendor as a person who sells food or merchandise from a pushcart, stand, display, pedal driven cart, wagon, or rack propped up on a sidewalk.

In anticipation of SB 946, Supervisor Solis authored a motion in November 2018 directing relevant County Departments to solicit stakeholder feedback and identify best practices to shape street vending regulations in unincorporated areas of LA County.

As a result, the County:

  • Held 16 meetings with brick-and-mortar business owners and sidewalk vendors;
  • Solicited over 1,200 survey results from stakeholders;
  • Researched best practices of government agencies throughout the country, and
  • Reviewed current County policies and codes that impact sidewalk vending.

Community partners expressed an eager willingness to work with the County to carry out this new program and applauded Supervisor Solis for her leadership.

“This new program could change the lives of vendors across LA County,” said Rudy Espinoza, executive director of Inclusive Action for the City. “Investing in a holistic approach to formally engaging these businesses in our economy is a historic move from the Supervisor.”

“Under the leadership of Supervisor Solis, the County is making an urgent and necessary investment in low-income and immigrant entrepreneurship,” said Doug Smith, supervising senior staff attorney at Public Counsel. “This program not only supports those hit hardest by the pandemic, but it moves the region toward a more inclusive and equitable small business economy – a key ingredient in a just recovery.”

“This pilot program honors the time, effort, and investment that street vendors and advocates have made for over 10 years,” said Carla De Paz, project director of the Community Power Collective. “We are excited for an affordable cart design – this has been the biggest barrier for low-income vendors across the County.”

Today’s motion directs pertinent County Departments to begin preparing ordinances to implement the Sidewalk Vending Program in unincorporated areas of LA County. The motion also instructs that these ordinances must prioritize outreach, education, and technical assistance. In addition, the motion directs the Departments to create a County Streets Ambassador program through partnerships with community groups who can help bring vendors into compliance with public health guidelines.

The motion also instructs the County to nurture the development of street vending business associations, requests the allocation of $1 million in one-time funding for the establishment of the Sidewalk Vending Program, and requires a 30-day report back on the pilot program to identify staff and resources needed to administer a permanent sidewalk vending program.

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Communication Director, rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov