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Shoppers look over items being offered for sale by a vendor at the century-old Maxwell Street Market on October 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.
The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors is considering a motion today that would clamp down on illegal street vendors. The motion, written by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who represents the 2nd District, applies to illegal vendors that sell everything from bacon hotdogs on pushcarts to used and new items on the streets in the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles.
Efren Martinez, executive director of the Florence-Firestone/Walnut Park Chamber of Commerce, says vendors are coming into South Los Angeles to sell because the lack of law enforcement. He notes that you'll find anywhere between 60 and 300 illegal vendors in his community on an average day.
"The worst part about it is that the vendors go ahead and place themselves right in front of another established business," he said. "... They are coming here because they know they can get away with it."
Two possible solutions that have been tabled include coordinating yard sales so they only take place once a month, and giving sheriffs the authority to issue citations to offenders on the spot.
While proponents of the motion say that illegal street vendors are hurting legitimate brick-and-mortar businesses, Rudy Espinoza, executive director at Leadership for Urban Renewal Now, said these illegal vendors are just trying to make an honest living.
Espinoza points to macro economic issues, such as poverty and chronic unemployment, as the underlying problem: "I think we have to bring everyone to the table ... the issues small businesses are dealing with are the same as what vendors are dealing with."
"Most of the vendors are older women who can't find a job," he said. "They are trying to find a legal way to do it but unfortunately in Los Angeles, there is no legal way for them to vend on the street."
Where do you stand on the issue? Should unlicensed vendors be sent packing? Or do you find their services helpful?
Efren Martinez, executive director, Florence-Firestone/Walnut Park Chamber of Commerce
Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director at Leadership for Urban Renewal Now, who has done work with street vendors