LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill decriminalizing sidewalk vending in the state and requiring cities that want to regulate the industry to first create a permit process.
Senate Bill 946 was authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who said part of his motivation was because many sidewalk vendors are immigrants who are in the country illegally, and a criminal violation could lead to deportation.
The bill comes after the issue has been in the headlines in Los Angeles over the last several years, as the City Council voted in February 2017 to stop making street vending a misdemeanor criminal charge, although it is still working on a permit system for the industry.
“I feel excited with the news of Governor Brown signing SB946,” said Caridad Vasquez, a leader of the Street Vendor Campaign. “Before we were working in the shadows, now we will be seen by everyone and can contribute to our economy openly.”
Angel Godinez, who works as a street vendor in San Fernando, said he “was happy” about the bill. “Now that we have this, we can be more comfortable [about working]. I haven’t had any problems but I know friends who have tickets. Maybe with the new laws they may even become more strict about it, but I’m ready for that.”
The bill, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, establishes minimum standards for sidewalk vending regulations and would not permit local governments to prevent sidewalk vending in an area unless there is a health, safety, or welfare issue. Vendors who were previously convicted of sidewalk vending violations may also petition the court for a dismissal of the conviction.
On Twitter, Lara wrote that “we can start seeing vendors for who they are — women, seniors, parents & micro-business owners. Ending criminal penalties & letting people contribute to the local economy!”
In April, the Los Angeles City Council directed the city’s attorneys to draft a proposed sidewalk vending ordinance that would limit many blocks to two vendors, but would allow for the creation of special vending zones where more would be allowed. The draft ordinance has not come back to the City Council for a vote.
The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol contributed to this story.