Lawless Los Angeles


Here’s a complete background history of the decades-old controversy that was hashed out by the LA City Council. Now, over 20 years later, we are still “Lawless Los Angeles.”

Buscaino and Price, are among a number of city officials who are concerned that the election of Donald Trump and his vehement anti-illegal-immigrant stance mean it’s time to circle the wagons in an effort to protect those in the country illegally.  And one way to do that is to decriminalize street vending.  It is possible that a Trump crackdown could target for deportation, illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.  Street vending in Los Angeles is currently a crime, a misdemeanor.

Buscaino and Price at News Conference announcing their proposal

At a press conference in November, Buscaino announced their plan and said: “We had a failed policy in the city of Los Angeles and it has not worked.” Of Trump [and his immigration bias], Buscaino says “…he has continued to instill fear in our immigrant community here in Los Angeles and this policy before us would do everything we can to decriminalize, remove the misdemeanor penalty and ensure that we support our entrepreneurs who are doing everything they can to provide food on the table, support their families and boost our local economy.”

But what about existing businesses, some of whom are impacted negatively by street vendors.

Many regular restaurant owners have a long list of complaints, such as parking, trash, blocking of signage, and the health issues connected to running an “under-the-table” food selling business.  Normal businesses pay permit fees, are subject to health inspections and collect taxes on the hot foods they sell.  Many of the street vendors are in vehicles which have the potential to block normal businesses from street view.  This has an obvious impact on potential customer’s ability to identify a business from the street.

These important issues aside, street vending has now become an immigration issue and Buscaino has some words for critics of his plan, “…to the pundits who feel that this policy that we’re presenting is something that encourages more illegal immigration, we say this our city and if you don’t like it, you can head back where you came from.”


City Council President Herb Wesson Source:

Does the Busciani/Price proposal include regulations similar to those forced upon regular ‘brick and mortar’ restaurants?  Will these street vendors collect sales tax as is required of other businesses?

Buscaino uses an interesting choice of words,  which could indicate his disdain for opposing points of view. If you believe that street vendors should not be allowed to peddle food unencumbered by regulations and enforcement, Buscaini seems to be saying you’re a pundit, or worse a racist and a bigot.

The effort announced by Biscaino and Price, dovetails nicely with City Council President Herb Wesson’s own efforts to do battle with the yet-to-be-installed Trump administration, albeit not on street vending.  Wesson is calling for the establishment of an “Immigrant Advocate,” who would develop strategies and plans to protect illegal immigrants from deportation by the feds.  Citing U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Wesson, in an open letter to members of the City Council on November 23,  said, “57.3 percent of foreign born residents in the City are not currently citizens.”  And, he added, “As members of the Los Angeles City Council, it is our responsibility to protect and enhance the quality of life for all of our residents regardless of national origin, religion, ethnic group, language, sexual orientation, gender, marital status or immigration status.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign is an organized effort to legalize street vending.  The group is touting the recommendations of a UCLA School of Law Criminal Defense Clinic report on “Criminalizing the Sidewalk: Why the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Should Take Action to Reform the Unjust Treatment of Low-income Sidewalk Vendors.”  The recommendations include decriminalizing street vending and ceasing all prosecutions for the crime as well as recommending community stakeholders develop “a city-wide regime for legal and regulated sidewalk vending.”

The battle between proponents of street vending and its detractors has been going on for years.  Efforts to make the practice legal have stalled — until the election of Donald Trump.


Full Disclosure has released a number of reports and interviews on street vendors in Los Angeles and we are presenting them here as part of our “Second Look” campaign, an effort designed to keep viewers updated on how the past really does impact the future.

Program 74: Issues involving street vendors are discussed by Joseph Solomon, Pres. African-American Retailers and Madeline Janis-Aparicio, Latham & Watkins (Street Vendors Assn.). Topics include to what degree should street vendors be regulated, should undocumented sellers be granted business licenses, are street vendors in competition with established businesses, and how will the laws be enforced.

Program 80: Eziquel Mobley, African American Marketplace, Robert Valdez, L.A. City Street Vending Administrator, Ralph Casey, L.A. Mission College, and Angelica Garza, Central American Refugee Center discuss legalizing street vendors and efforts to provide training in sanitation, culinary arts, business and functional English as well as ways of obtaining funding.

Program 85: In the wake of the legalization of street vendors, Ryan Song, Exec. Dir. Korean Grocers Assoc. and Gilbert T. Baker, Pres. CAL-PAK (African-American Grocers) raise concerns on issues of unfair competition, cost of enforcement, biased media coverage and public health and safety issues, and propose obtaining signatures to qualify a ballot measure to rescind the ordinance.

Program 88: David Maxwell, State Board of Equalization, Compliance Specialist, Robert Valdez, L. A. Street Vending Administrator and Gilbert T. Baker, Pres. CAL-PAK, (African-American Grocers) give details and observations on the processes in place for issuing permits to street vendors, plans for collecting fees, how vendors will be monitored, enforcing regulations, and the consequences for noncompliance.

Full Disclosure Network covers in-depth issues mostly ignored by mainstream media.

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