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Why Is Street Food Illegal?

Stories Of Us
When is a pop-up illegal? Meet the vendors, activists and politicians working to level the playing field for Latino entrepreneurs.
Show transcript
00:00
Essentially, they're visionaries.
00:02
They are culinary artist.
00:07
We should legalize street vending in Los Angeles and we should
00:09
decriminalize it.
00:21
Sidewalk vendors to me are part of our everyday culture.
00:25
Street vending has been part of the history of Los Angeles
00:28
since the beginning.
00:29
You know, the mercados, you would see people selling their
00:32
goods.
00:32
It's beloved in our city, Angelinos, love street vendors
00:35
You can uncover photos of uh pushing their cards with horses
00:41
for me getting to know the women in particular who are part
00:45
of this movement is inspiring.
01:04
We got started up because our family told us to start up.
01:07
We've been vegetarian vegan for like the past eight years
01:10
So we can't eat out anywhere, you know.
01:12
So we just had to start cooking our own food.
01:30
The effort to legalize street vending in Los Angeles um was
01:33
primarily driven by the experience of street vendors that
01:36
approached um or organizations that are now leading the campaign
01:40
um with uh a call for help.
01:42
We were doing our pop ups in Silver Lake.
01:44
We just had finished setting up our, our stand, we put our grills
01:48
we had food, we had everything and then we just see this big
01:51
truck come and it's like the health department, they mentioned
02:04
it was our first infraction, but they did throw away all of
02:07
our food, but they didn't take any of our equipment.
02:10
It's not necessarily the cops that have been issued.
02:13
It was really the surrounding businesses.
02:15
Somebody from your local businesses called and complained
02:18
that you're taking business away from them and they don't
02:22
like that.
02:23
So they're gonna have to call the health department vendors
02:25
were experiencing equipment, confiscation, citations
02:28
and arrest and they said we need to change this.
02:40
That kind of prompted us, you know, our family sat down, we
02:43
like we don't want to get shut down if you wanna take all of our
02:46
stuff away from us right now.
02:48
Right?
02:48
Like we're done ensuring that they're not criminalized,
02:51
ensuring that they have a place in our society is very important
02:54
for me.
02:54
Currently, you have a patchwork of laws that either try to
02:58
protect or criminalize sidewalk vendors.
03:01
And now more than ever, we have to, you know, have the state
03:04
come in and, and provide a policy that's gonna be statewide
03:08
that's gonna allow street vendors to exist and protect them
03:11
Unfortunately, from what's happening at the federal level
03:24
My God, no, no, no, no.
03:27
I mean, the majority of our sidewalk vendors are women are
03:30
seniors who are trying to make ends meet Salvador, Honduras
03:36
Mexico, Guatemala.
03:38
Essentially, they're visionaries, they're culinary artists
03:41
you know, let's give them the education, let's empower them
03:44
It's not just about the food, but it's about being able to make
03:46
a connection with people.
03:47
I get to serve you food like that.
03:49
It's an honor like thank you for the opportunity to let me serve
03:51
you food.
03:56
We got everything that we need to be legit, right?
03:59
And no matter how legit we are at this point, we still can't
04:02
be on the street corner legally.
04:04
Our target has been, we should create, we should legalize
04:07
street vending in Los Angeles and we should decriminalize
04:09
it and that's been our agenda.
04:11
So next time you see a sidewalk vendor, you know, take a moment
04:15
to realize that, you know, this person is, you know, fighting
04:18
against all odds to be there already.
04:21
And so why not be kind, why not allow them to do their job and
04:25
get to savor the great food that they serve?