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Food Fight
LA to Ban Street Vending?

Los Angeles lawmakers recently voted to ban vending of food and trinkets in certain public areas, like parks and beaches. The reasons:

Backers such as Councilman Joe Buscaino said that the reinstated rules would protect the city from being sued if someone was hurt or sickened by the wares or services sold by unlicensed park vendors. “Say someone gets hurt during an unpermitted yoga class, who would be liable?” Buscaino asked Senior Assistant City Atty. Valerie Flores.

“Arguably, the city could be sued,” Flores said.

Banning unpermitted vending could help defend the city from such suits, Flores said. If the city did not have the option to charge repeat offenders with a misdemeanor, she told lawmakers, vendors might continue plying their business in parks and simply pay the fines as a “cost of doing business.”

The ban has been opposed by a mixed coalition of advocacy groups and community activists, largely for the detrimental effect it is expected to have on the vibrant cultural life of the city and on the economic prospects of the poor and working class.

This managerial overstretch does little good and much harm. While it’s reasonable to insist that certain regulations be followed, the outright ban is unlikely to be effective and will probably be enforced only discriminately. Many thousands of Angelenos depend on this economy to make a living. As we remarked before, about burdensome regulations on food trucks across the country, policies like this are “self-destructive… because [they] make it harder for small, undercapitalized entrepreneurs to employ themselves—exactly the kind of people cities should be helping, not hurting.” In their zeal to project themselves from lawsuits, regulators may be threatening thousands of workers’ livelihoods just at a time when jobs are hard to come by.

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  • CapitalHawk

    “policies like this are “self-destructive… because [they] make it harder for small, undercapitalized entrepreneurs to employ themselves—exactly the kind of people cities should be helping, not hurting.””

    Couldn’t you say this about literally every regulation or policy that applies to a small business – at the local, state and federal level? What are you people, some sort of evil Republicans?!?!?!?!

  • Scott Heyman

    “In their zeal to project themselves from lawsuits…” Lawsuits the left in fact encourages by carrying water for the trial lawyers.

    • Kevin

      Yes. They could after all lobby the state legislature to immunize them from these suits – or even adopt loser pay rules to discourage frivolous and vexatious suits.

      But the city attorney saying “Arguably, the city could be sued.” is pretty weak tea. Sounds like this is a theoretical possibility not something that has ever happened or is likely to happen. Arguably, anyone could be sued for anything. It sounds like the council has already made up its collective mind to ban these vendors and was just looking for some cover to disguise the fact that they were doing it for more powerful if less reputable interests.

  • FriendlyGoat

    This likely comes down to who owns the property the vendor is vending on. If it’s the city, the city can be held responsible for incidents.
    We may not like this, but it’s not hard to understand why it’s happening.

    • Kevin

      Come on Goat, you can’t seriously believe this theoretical liability is why they acted.

      • Government Drone

        This seems to be the leftist mindset, to assume that government is behind everything that is allowed to happen. In this case, if there’s some food truck or other vendor operating on a public sidewalk, that somehow the government had put him there, & is therefore responsible for the vendor’s presence & activities.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Well, actually I suspect this is rooted in part from complaints by other businesses of a more “brick and mortar” nature—-related to competition they would rather not have. But the lawsuit excuse can always be used, because it really does exist.

  • fastrackn1

    So they can’t rewrite the city law to prevent the government from being able to get sued if an incident is caused by a private citizen doing business on government property??
    So they just decide to put thousands of small business out of business?

    Funny how the ultra liberal left wing loons in Cali government are trying to hurt the ‘small’ people they are always saying they support.
    I’ll bet if a big corporation like McDonalds wanted to open a location where the street vendors used to sell, the liberals in government would be okay with that….but then of course they would continue to bash McDonalds for poisoning everyone with their unhealthy food….

    • Kevin

      Who do you think is trying to put the street vendors out of business? Not (necessarily) McDonalds, but the other brick and mortar restaurants and shops trying to eliminate the competition.

      • fastrackn1

        Yes, that is true, but I laugh at the liberal left who play to the little people to get votes, then turn around and do this crap to the same people they claim to be representing.

  • jeburke

    Trial lawyers are a menace. Someone should undertake a serious study of the number of crazy things government agencies of all kinds do because they, or their insurance companies, anticipate possible future lawsuits. Banning dodge ball in schoolyards comes to mind. Our tort law is deeply rooted in common law principles that give every person a fair shot at recovering real damages. In today’s America, this has become the basis of a huge legal industry that prowls about every community looking for deep pockets to pick. And of course, public entities have the deepest pockets, since they are playing with taxpayers’ money.

  • Dan

    Thank God the people of Los Angeles have the brave city council. Stalwart defenders of all that is good and true. Protecting the people from the menace of unpermitted yoga classes.

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