Weak Los Angeles Job Market Breeds More Illegal Street Vendors

Weak Los Angeles Job Market Breeds More Illegal Street Vendors

On Sunday the Los Angeles Times reported that the job market in Los Angeles has been so weak that many people who can’t find employment have opened street vending booths to sell food and sundries.

The Times reported that it is no longer just new immigrants in Los Angeles selling their wares, but rather it is a varied group of out-of-work professionals, war veterans and single mothers.

Notably, the Times makes no mention of the recent report that one out of four immigrants, (1.1 million out of 4.4 million), in Los Angeles are here illegally and may gravitate to this kind of work, given that it is unregulated and requires few skills such as speaking English.

A recent report by the Los Angeles chief legislative analyst’s office claims that more and more men are running vending booths because of the scarcity of good construction and restaurant jobs. Moreover, Janet Favela, an organizer with the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign contends that younger vendors in their 20s and 30s are becoming much more prevalent.

In Los Angeles, unlike New York and San Francisco, sidewalk vending is illegal and vendors can receive a citation if they set up shop without permission from law enforcement. Over a time period from July 2013 to March 2014, 286 vendors received citations which can carry up to $1,000 in fines and possible jail time.

City Council member Jose Huizar, the first Mexican immigrant elected to the City Council in Los Angeles’ history along with Curren Price are sponsoring new legislation to legalize the “micro-business.” 

Those who oppose legalizing street vending argue that areas rife with street vendors have increased trash pick-up costs. Moreover, they complain that they block sidewalks and take away from legitimate businesses. The Times reported that others are concerned that a system to regulate peddlers will be expensive.


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