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Street Vending

Street Vendor Permit Fees Will Drop From $541 to $27 In L.A. Following City Council Approval

The new law will go into effect on July 28th, 2024, and will apply to food as well as merchandise vendors. The reduced fee for annual vending permits will allow many more L.A. vendors to become protected by the law and takes into consideration the average annual income of street vendors.

Last week, L.A. City Council unanimously approved the reduction of permit fees for street vendors in the City of Los Angeles. The ordinance, introduced by Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Curren Price, will bring the annual permit fee cost from $541 down to $27.51. 

Back in 2022, Raman and Price requested that the City Administrative Officer (CAO) run a new fee study that would better reflect the income that is generated by street vendors. This new study would determine an acceptable price for a permit that better paves the way for park and sidewalk vendors to operate. 

In the conducted study, the COA removed any costs related to “enforcement of permitted sidewalk activities,” which means the cost of having 22 enforcement staff in the Bureau of Street Services will no longer be included in the total permit price.

According to the fee study, the once-set price of $291 back in 2019-2022, remained unchanged because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2022, officials considered raising it to $541 but ultimately held off and proposed maintaining the reduced price for extended periods of time. 

Back in 2018, when street vending became decriminalized, the city estimated there would be 50,000 vendors operating and hoped to issue 16,000 permits annually. However, the high fee discouraged participation, and only an average of 944 permits were issued each year. This meant most vendors operated without permits.

In the hope of integrating street vendors into the formal economy of the city, the council members have been making strides to facilitate operations as much as possible. Acknowledging that charging over $500 to sidewalk and park vendors is unrealistic, Councilmember Raman has been urging the council to make changes to their street vending laws since 2021. 

In a 2021 move to support Los Angeles street vendors, the City Council unanimously voted to urge California to modernize its Retail Food Code. This initiative by the City Council aimed to create a more welcoming and feasible framework within the Retail Food Code, allowing street vendors to operate legally and contribute to the city's culinary scene.

These extremely high, unrealistic, and prohibitive prices for street vending have been burdening vendors all over Southern California. Earlier this year, the Long Beach City Council ruled that street food vendors would have to pay $1,895 in fees and permits in order to continue legally selling in the city. 

“By acknowledging the financial realities that these vendors face, we are honoring their hard work and dedication. This ordinance will alleviate financial burdens, allowing more vendors to comply with regulations and cultivate an inclusive, supportive environment,” said Price in a press release from the city. 

Councilmember Raman added that promoting equity for street vendors is something that the council and even the state have been actively working on. 

“We’ve taken major steps to bring street vendors into the formal economy by removing barriers to obtaining permits, particularly with the passage of SB972. However, the financial costs alone were still enough to prevent vendors from operating legally,” Raman said. 

Set at a much more manageable price of $27.51, this new price tag for annual vending permits will allow many more L.A. vendors to become protected by the law. This price adjustment takes into consideration the average annual income of street vendors.

This new law will go into effect on July 28th, 2024, and will apply to food as well as merchandise vendors. 

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