Pushcart sellers in LA

By Bruce Firestone | Business Coaching

Nov 09

If you read this LA Times article carefully (https://beta.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-vending-rules-20171108-story.html), you
will note that Los Angeles city councilors are about to allow pushcart sellers to become
legal for the 1st time except not in certain areas. Which areas are excluded? 

would be banned from doing business within five feet of driveways, bus benches,
fire hydrants, crosswalks, outdoor dining areas and “any area improved
with lawn, flowers, shrubs” or trees; within 10 feet of transit shelters,
the rear of a parking meter, or the front of any marked spot for parallel
parking; within 20 feet of historic monuments and murals, sculptures or
fountains funded or managed by a city program; and anywhere that interferes
with window displays, puts people in danger or impedes access to adjacent

would also be prohibited within 500 feet of Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood Bowl,
Staples Center, the Coliseum, Hollywood Boulevard and any other venues singled
out by the Board of Public Works. Price said those venues were chosen because
they “have a surge of crowds during events” and vendors could worsen

vendors could not set up shop near schools during school hours, unless they
sell “exclusively healthy food” such as fruit or vegetables. And more
restrictions could be on the way: The City Council is supposed to come up with
criteria to “expand, limit or prohibit sidewalk vending” in
designated areas, dubbed Special Sidewalk Vending Districts, before permits are
handed out.

groups that include brick-and-mortar shops have pressed for neighborhoods to be
able to choose if they want more, less or no vending at all. They have also
lobbied for L.A. to require sidewalk vendors to get permission from neighboring
property owners. And in Hollywood, they have urged the city to totally ban
vending along the Walk of Fame.

Are you freaking kidding me?

It’s like BANANAS people—

BANANA is an acronym for
“Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything” (or
“Anyone”). The term is most often used to criticize the ongoing
opposition of certain advocacy groups to land development.

They’ll be on Mars before you’ll be able to find a decent legal
location in LA under these rules. This is how politicians seek to appear to help poor
folk but actually don’t. 

If LA really gives neighboring property owners veto power over pushcart locations, it just opens up opportunities for them to extort money from pushcart operators in return for giving their “permission.”

Pushcarts, street vendors, food trucks, street performers etc animate a community–they make cities, towns and villages more interesting places. If your brick and mortar enterprise can’t compete with them, then you have a poor excuse for a business. You should go OOB (out of business) after which find something more useful/more productive for yourself to do… 

I can predict with utter certainty that these regulations
will make pushcart sellers’ lives worse—as
they will now pay license fees and other costs to have police enforce these bizarrely complicated new rules; watch, for instance, what happened to Hispanic hotdog vendor Beto [as filmed by Martin Flores] in Berkeley not too long ago. This sort of police harassment (where the cop even takes the cash from Beto’s thin wallet) will soon be coming to a street corner near you (in LA):

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TnmOkef6Gw?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://safe.txmblr.com&wmode=opaque]


If you read Emily Alpert Reyes’ LA Times article carefully though, there is apparently one loophole–pushcarts selling art will be excluded from enforcement.

So my solution is for folks like Beto to sell and charge for art (say a caricature or a Bitmoji) and then give their hotdogs away for … FREE.

Prof Bruce

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD, Ottawa Senators founder, Real Estate Investment and Business coach, ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker, 1-613-762-8884 bruce.firestone@century21.ca twitter.com/ProfBruce profbruce.tumblr.com/archive brucemfirestone.com


postscript: what bothered me in the above video most about Beto’s situation was not actually the bad behavior of the police officer but watching Berkeley students pass by smirking. I was in Berkeley in 1969 and I can assure you that students back then would have protested, big time.


postscript 2: for full disclosure, I contributed to a Go Fund Me campaign [https://www.gofundme.com/officialjustice4juanstreetvendors] organized by Martin Flores to help Beto after this event, which raised $92,560 from 5,807 donors so Beto could buy his own food truck.

I told Martin about my utter disbelief that Berkeley students did nothing to help. 

He wrote back:

I wish we had the ‘69 Berkeley generation today. Thank you so much for the donation and standing up for a hard working person trying to earn an honest living. As a collective and supportive community, we can bring brightness to the life of Juan and other street vendors. Lets raise enough money to fulfill his dream to buy a Food Truck. www.streetvendorjustice.com. — Martin M Flores 

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.