Street vendors fight back against city-issued citations – NBC Los Angeles

California

A handful of street vendors in Los Angeles are pushing back against what they say is discrimination after they’ve been cited by the city over their work.

Street vendors who have spoken with NBC4 say they’ve been cited before and even after Mayor Karen Bass signed the Sidewalk Vending Ordinance, which provides an “open-air economy” for business owners, including vendors.

Although signed, the ordinance will go into effect in August.

Alejandra Rodriguez, who sells food on Hollywood Boulevard, said she’s received about 50 citations for vending on the popular street. According to her, a person takes photos of her vending although she said she’s in a legal area.

Community Power Collective, an organization dedicated to helping low-income workers and tenants, is working with vendors affected by the citations. Sergio Jimenez, who is part of the organization, said the “constant” changes of guidelines and legality for street vendors along popular areas create confusion for workers.

According to Jimenez, Hollywood Boulevard is among seven areas in Los Angeles that were designated as no vending zones. However, he said that’s no longer the case thanks to the Sidewalk Vending Ordinance.

“What we are seeing now is a modification of the citations from the Bureau of Street Services of LA, who enforce the rules of the vending ordinance,” Jimenez said.

The citations, according to the street vendors, are for a variety of violations like being too close to a red curb or to other vendors. According to the group’s attorney, the tickets are a form of discrimination and harassment.

“A lot of times, the vendors we are in touch with are not even getting those tickets in their hand,” Ritu Mahajan, the vendors’ attorney, said. “It’s mailed to them weeks later in bunches with dates on the tickets that they were not even vending.”

In a statement, Councilman Hugo Soto Martinez said he is looking into the issue.

“As the son of street vendors, this is a very personal issue for me. We want to make it a priority to collaborate with street vendors, brick-and-mortar businesses, and residents to develop a vending system that works for the whole community,” Soto Martinez’ statement read.

Mahajan said a lawsuit has been filed against the city over the citations. The complaint, which is scheduled to be addressed in court May 16, seeks to acquire reimbursement to the vendors.

In a statement sent to NBC4, Community Power Collective and the non-profit legal team representing the street vendors said it is committed to protective street vendors from the penalties they are facing.

“We hope to resolve the remaining critical issues that the City has failed to address, including hundreds of outstanding citations for operating in the now-repealed “no-vending” zones, overbroad and unjustified distancing requirements from swap meets, farmers markets, and schools, and a lack of assurances that future regulations will be lawful and inclusive,” their statement partially read. “Given the number of citations issued over the past five years, it is critical that the Parties ensure that all citations are fully rescinded and all refunds are made to these business owners.”

Read original source here.

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