Street vendors are a huge economic engine that powers California’s local economy and neighborhoods. But they face an endless cycle of poverty and crime due to outdated policies that deny them access to food permits. In response, the Expert Committee of Street Vendors and Advocates helped draft Senate Bill 972, the bill I introduced to the State Legislature.
This bill will protect the vendor community by creating a fairer and more inclusive food economy. SB 972 is a bill written by and for the vendor community, driven by people like Marlin Alvarado, many of us most affected by the failed system, Supported.
Alvarado has been selling fruit and hot dogs in Hollywood for the past 16 years. After quitting her job at her factory, which was compounded by her exploitative working conditions, her vending machine offered her a welcome opportunity to take control and control of her own situation. provided to An immigrant from Honduras, she has worked tirelessly to provide for her three children while providing our community with affordable food.
Many vendors come from low-income communities of color who have historically been denied equitable access to resources such as quality affordable housing, higher education, and fair-wage jobs. People use vending machines because they have limited economic opportunities due to old age, immigration status, language barriers, etc. Many of these small entrepreneurs are women of color and are heads of households. Vending machines allow me to work on a flexible schedule while taking care of my family.
Street vendors like Alvarado reflect our state’s rich cultural diversity and the important role of small businesses in the local economy. In Los Angeles alone, the average annual income for a street vendor is $15,000, but in the city he earns over $500 million.
But the policies that now govern how street vendors can do business are draining hard-working people like Alvarado.
Many of the vendors I spoke with expressed a desire to do their jobs without fear of being arrested or having the fruits of their labor thrown in the trash.
Last year, more than 130 vendors closed without notice at the Guatemala Night Market in Westlake, the Avenue 26 Night Market in Lincoln Heights, and Patata Street in Kudahie, which is in my school district. This past May, more than 50 vendors were evicted from the culinary and cultural hub known as the Salvadoran Corridor Street Food Market in the city of Los Angeles.
Despite the statewide legalization and decriminalization of street vending in 2018, the current California retail food law makes it impossible for vendors to do business legally and actually harms them. I’m here. The state retail food code is seen as a blueprint for stringent health and safety requirements in the food sector, but it is not the right size for vending activities, and moreover, local jurisdictions are unable to enforce the code. It does not outline a standardized process for how. state and the vendor is subject to selective interpretation. This has resulted in local health departments and law enforcement showing up unannounced to carry out multiple subpoenas, thousands of dollars in fines and violent cleanups, often in a single day.
An outdated retail food code written primarily for restaurants creates unnecessary challenges in a sector where barriers already exist for street vendors to integrate into the formal food economy. Obtaining the necessary permits and equipment to operate legally was prohibitively expensive and nearly impossible for many.
Cesar Benitez of Gourmet Aguas Frescas, empowered to take action, joined the ranks of street vendors, shared their experiences and argued on behalf of SB 972: The money he makes from selling aqua fresca is barely enough to cover his living expenses. ”
It’s time to update the California Retail Food Code by passing SB 972.
SB 972 creates opportunities for vendors and local economies to thrive. Vendors can prepare meals outside of expensive and difficult-to-access concessions or in your home’s approved kitchen. This facilitates the permitting process and allows street vendors to legally participate in the food economy.
And finally, SB 972 will help end the vicious cycle of enormous harassment and debt from compliance standards that the current Retail Food Code has forced many vendors into.
With continued support from our community and colleagues in Congress, SB 972 will go through the legislative process and reach the governor’s desk for signature in the fall.
Removing street vendor barriers is not only the right thing to do, it’s the common sense way to bring legitimacy and opportunity to all small businesses. To ensure that California’s economy and communities can thrive, it is imperative that my fellow legislators champion small-scale entrepreneurship and condemn all forms of discrimination. I urge my legislative colleagues to work with vendors to support SB 972.
Lena A. Gonzalez is a California Senator who has served in the cities of Los Angeles County and the communities of Cudahy, Bell, Bell Gardens, Lynwood, Maywood, Signal Hill, Paramount, South Gate, Vernon, Walnut Park, and Huntington Park. It represents the 33 wards. Most of Long Beach.