Judge Issues Final Ruling Favorable to Los Angeles Street Vendors

Judge Issues Final Ruling Favorable to Los Angeles Street Vendors
Street vendors sell food items in Santa Ana, Calif., on July 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES—A judge March 16 allowed a coalition of street vendors suing the city of Los Angeles over its no-vending zones to proceed with a legal challenge to the ordinance.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant finalized a tentative ruling he issued Wednesday, overruling the city’s first legal challenge to the petition brought Dec. 7 by three community groups—Community Power Collective, East Los Angeles Community Corp., and Inclusive Action for the City—and two sidewalk vendors, Merlin Alvarado and Ruth Monroy.

The petition challenges the city’s “no-vending zones” ordinance that prohibits sidewalk food sales within 500 feet of many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods and tourist destinations, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The city maintains that allowing sidewalk vending in tourist areas and sports venues causes overcrowding that leads to pedestrians walking in the street.

The petitioners—some of them held a rally outside the downtown courthouse Thursday morning ahead of the hearing—allege that no-vending zones conflict with SB 946, the 2018 California law that decriminalized street vending.

The coalition and the vendors say the city has not offered any data demonstrating when and where pedestrians have been forced to walk on the street, or on whether sidewalk vending is the cause, or whether alternatives to a vending ban have been considered.

According to Chalfant’s ruling, the city has not shown that its restrictions are directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns. He further said the city does not explain why the seven no-vendor locations were chosen, what overcrowding has occurred at those locations, why the 500-foot barrier was selected, and whether sidewalk vending is directly related to the concerns stated.

“SB 946 precludes the city from adopting these restrictions without meeting its criteria and the court cannot ascertain whether the city has complied without such evidence,” he wrote.