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Should brick-and-mortar shops be able to veto sidewalk vendors?

Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

LOS ANGELES -- When pushcart vendors try to set up shop in front of his East Hollywood gas station, Jacques Massachi tells them to leave.

"I don't allow them. I just don't allow them," Massachi said.

The sidewalk sellers can end up obstructing traffic in and out of the gas station, he complained. And if they hawk hot dogs, ice cream or anything else sold at his Ampm store, he sees them as rivals.

If someone can walk up and buy a hot dog out front, Massachi said, "why would he buy a hot dog from me?"

Los Angeles is planning to legalize and regulate sidewalk vending, handing out city permits to the pushcarts and stands that are an everyday sight in the city.

Despite a longstanding ban, about 50,000 vendors ply their trade on its sidewalks, selling ice cream, tamales and other food and goods, according to city officials.

 

But brick-and-mortar shops, which have complained about blocked walkways, leftover trash and what they see as unfair competition from unregulated sidewalk vendors, could stand in their way. Under a proposal being vetted at City Hall, property owners like Massachi could prohibit vending on the adjacent sidewalks.

Business groups have lobbied for property owners to be able to decide whether vending can operate outside their doors.

They point to Portland, Ore., and San Francisco, which give neighboring businesses a say over when vendors can set up shop. Some lawmakers have backed the idea as a way to curb conflicts with brick-and-mortar shops.

"It's important to have a kumbaya relationship between the vendors and the business," Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said. "It needs to be mutual and beneficial."

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