Addressing Street Vending Countywide

Street vendors along Compton Avenue from 60th Street to Slauson Avenue.

For years now, residents and business owners in the Florence-Firestone section of Los Angeles County have complained about street vending lining Compton Avenue from 60th Street to Slauson Avenue, where everything from ice cream to t-shirts to CD’s and DVDs or bicycles and infant car seats are available for sale.

While these sidewalk swap meets provide income for some, they are a constant nuisance for local residents who live in the area, a drain on tax revenues and a hardship for mom-and-pop businesses that are forced to compete with vendors that literally set up shop directly in front of their venue.  They are also a public health hazard –vendors sell food that often is improperly stored or prepared in unsanitary conditions.

To address this problem, which  over the years has become increasingly  entrenched,  the Board of Supervisors , acting on a motion brought by  Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas , called for county departments, including the departments of Regional Planning, Public Health and the Sheriff’s Department, to coordinate with each other and  create an ordinance that would abate the problem.  The motion also called for the departments to seek ample input from businesses, vendors and residents, who would be affected by new rules.

“These street vending areas have long posed a problem for residents and local businesses,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “We have heard their complaints and we need more substantive and effective measures to address their needs. I fully support  appropriate channels for employment for hardworking people,  but this must be done in a way that is safe, healthy and legal, and  that does not harm the quality of life for others.”

Residents complain that as early as Thursday night, customers for the street vendors park and sleep in their cars to reserve a spot for shopping Friday through Sunday.   Not only is the congestion a neighborhood nuisance, many brick-and-mortar shop owners have trouble  making ends meet, unable to compete with the lower prices offered right in front of their stores.

“The same people that came to the United States for the American Dream are also being affected; these small mom-and-pop shops are being affected,” said Efren Martinez, executive director of the Florence Firestone/Walnut Park Chamber of Commerce. “I have had business owners come in here crying because they can no longer pay their rent because they losing all business to these vendors.”

Antonio Moreno, owner of a mini-mart in the Florence-Firestone area, told the supervisors that he rarely turns a profit on weekends, due to the 400 vendors who typically line the street, selling the same merchandise that he and other store owners sell too.

“At this point I’m in danger of closing my business, because I don’t have any sales Saturday and Sunday,” Moreno said. “Please keep me in mind when you’re deciding what to do — there are all kinds of delinquencies going on in that area — we’re desperate.”

Also, community members have noted that many of the  unauthorized vendors are not from the area, but have come to Compton Avenue because the laws against unlicensed vending are more rigorously enforced in other cities.

“For two long we have turned the other way while these communities are taught to think that there’s one standard for them and another for affluent communities, where rules are obeyed and enforced,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “What we seek here is balance. We seek an ordinance that promotes fairness and safety and public health.  For everyone.”

[h3_underlined]What should the county do about street vending?  Share your thoughts. [/h3_underlined]

8 replies
  1. K. Moore
    K. Moore says:

    Officials should collect a daily tax from these vendors every time they are on the street selling their products. This collected tax should be reinvested in the communities where they are selling their products. If I have to pay taxes- so should they!

  2. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    Enforce the law about no outside sales, and provide public space for community markets and swap meets.

  3. Clara Weston
    Clara Weston says:

    As a history major at CSUDH in 2009 i researched and prepared my senior thesis on Street Vendors, which enabled me to become aware of their plight. However, it is a injustice to the businesses in this particular area addressed (Florence-Firestone) to those who have required business licenses, order and invoice merchandise, required to have health permits, contract with public utilities and other required licenses and fees. The rights of these business owners need to be protected. Unfortunately there must be public ordinances to protect and assist their assets. Illegal street vendors should not be tolerated. There must be specific guidelines created and enforced. In areas where they sleep, post no parking signs between certain areas. In some cities, street vendors merchandise is confiscated and destroyed. Yes, it’s unfortunate but something must be done to curtail this illegal practice.

  4. Nat Lew
    Nat Lew says:

    May 1, 2013

    Regarding Street Vending:
    1. Yes – I agree to Enforce the Law regarding Having a Licence to Sell.
    2. Encourage Street Vendors to Go To Outdoor Swap Meet Facilities to sell at a Lower Rates for less Licence Laws.
    3. Come up with a Less Restrictive Licence Law, that will allow them to sell But at a
    Swap meet Area. Locals come & go there easily.

  5. Nat Lew
    Nat Lew says:

    May 1, 2013

    Regarding Street Vending:

    1. I Also Agree that these Street Venders – NOT be allowed to Set up SHop In Front of Other Mom & Pop Stores. For Many Reasons, Safety of Persons, Safety of Food Preperation, Taking away Customers from Mom & Pop Store causing their Revenue to Drop. I Thought it was against the Law to Set up a Non- Licenced Business in front of a Legal Business. We need to Reinforced that Law .

  6. marvina stephens
    marvina stephens says:

    Make everyone get a permit to sell and create an area for a flea market type of situation that is open on Saturday and Sundays away from the markets and stores. Also fine anyone selling within a certain distance to a store or market on all days.

  7. Help Save LA
    Help Save LA says:

    The laws in place should be enforced. “Street vending” is illegal and it violates several laws. We should never pick and choose which laws should be enforced. The residents in this area are fed up and need support from the district.

    The 90001 residents are begging for assistance. Someone should step up and take care of business!

  8. Help Save LA
    Help Save LA says:

    Maybe we can take them to your neighborhood and have them post up in front of your home/business? I’m sure this will make you change your mind about street vending.


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