April 21, 2022


Los Angeles street vendors celebrate victory after traveling to the state capital on Wednesday, to show their support for the passage of Senate Bill 972. Their latest effort came yesterday when street vendors from Los Angeles and the organization California Street Vendors Campaign visited Sacramento to share testimonies during the State Senate Health Committee hearing. 

The SB972 makes you wonder, as you are biting into your juicy, spicy, and satisfying bacon-wrapped hot dog after a long evening out, have you ever asked yourself what are some of the obstacles that street vendors face when selling some of your favorite street food? 

Whether it’s that iconic classic bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with caramelized onions that you’re getting at the Santee Alley (Los Callejones) or a juicy taco from your local taquero under the twilight moon and a tarp, unfortunately for food vendors, the obstacles they face in providing delicious and affordable necessities to the community are far too many. 

Without a doubt one of the main hurdles is the absence of a proper passage to obtaining the health permit that would allow them to operate legally. Yes, even after street vending was legalized in 2018 and implemented in 2019, street vendors are still continuing to fight for their right to sell food and make a living. 

At the hearing, vendors spoke about the importance of passing SB 972, which was introduced by Senator Lena Gonzalez in February of this year and is co-sponsored by Inclusive Action for the CityCommunity Power CollectivePublic CounselCHIRLA, and Western Center on Law & Poverty. It’s a bill that proposes to modernize the often described as outdated California Retail Food Code. 

“This (the current code) only threatens public safety by further pushing street food vendors into the informal economy and denies economic opportunities to low-income communities, immigrants, women, and people of color and subjects them to an unending cycle of criminalization and poverty,” Senator Gonzalez told L.A. TACO.

For food vendors, the change could also mean an end to the traumatizing health department sweeps, which usually involve their fresh food being thrown away.

“SB 972 will promote greater food safety and improve public health by enabling more sidewalk vendors to participate in a local permitting process that incorporates food safety education and sanitation control,” added Senator Gonzalez. 

Sidewalk vendor Merlin Alvarado who sells hot dogs near the Hollywood Walk of Fame spoke at yesterday’s hearing in Sacramento. Alvarado became a street vendor nearly 16 years ago after leaving her job at a factory where she said she was exploited. She explained that she was often taken advantage of. 

“No había otra opción, tuve que recurrir a la venta ambulante.” “There was no other option, I had to turn to street vending.” 

The night before her 7 AM flight to Sacramento L.A. TACO asked Alvarado how she was feeling about yesterday’s hearing, she said she felt optimistic and a bit nervous. She shared how she never imagined that she would be advocating for over five years for her right to sell food, at the same time she never thought she would see the day when street vending would be legalized.

Read the full article here.