Culture

Street Vendors Left Confused As Los Angeles Changes Regulations On Street Vendors

On most city streets in Los Angeles, you’re never too far from the nearest taco cart or fruit stand. Whether it’s a vendor selling you al-pastor tacos or a paletero greeting you with an elote, street vending is as much a part of the city as the sunshine and palm trees. According to city officials, there are an estimated 50,000 vendors in Los Angeles county alone. For years, many of these vendors faced fines, harassment from police and no real way to regulate vending on city streets. 

All of that is about change as the city of Los Angeles has started to roll out its Sidewalk and Park Vending program that was unanimously passed last year by the Los Angeles City Council. As of Jan. 2, the city has begun accepting permits for legal street food vending that will require vendors to have proper business licenses, health permits, and a $291 fee to operate that will go up to $541 on July 1. Under these new rules, all L.A. street vendors will be required to buy a permit with the city, or ultimately face fines. 

While the new program is being praised, it seems that street vendors are getting the short end of the stick.

One week into the program rollout, many have no clue about the new fees and where to apply for them, let alone afford them.

This ordeal goes back years but street vending took a huge step forward in 2018 when the L.A. City Council approved an ordinance to fully legalize it, following California Gov. Jerry Brown signing bill SB946 to make it easier for sidewalk vendors to operate legally. While the bill was championed at first, what followed was confusion across the state about how to enforce laws when it came to street vendors. Brown left it to California cities to develop their own regulations and rules on how to properly enforce and regulate street vending laws.

The city of L.A. is considered a leader when it comes to street vending regulation so with this month’s new program rollout, other cities across the state are looking at it as an example. But the most obvious roadblock might be educating and informing vendors of their rights and what is needed for them to abide by the law.  

Rudy Espinoza, the Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network and an activist who has worked for years to legalize street vending in Los Angeles, agrees that L.A. street vendors have been left in the dark. 

 “The big takeaway is that there has been a huge lack of investment in education and that is a big concern of mine,” Espinoza told the Los Angeles Downtown News. “I think a lot of street vendors, many who are in Downtown, don’t know what the rules are and there has to be a serious investment to reach them.”

Community organizers have tried to their best to inform vendors of these changes but many in the city have yet to hear about them nor can many afford these new permits. 

One of biggest issues that has arisen in the rollout of the program is simply the cost of permits. According to Curbed LA, street vendors and community organizers made the case to city leaders to lower permit fees “from $50 to $200, depending on a vendor’s age or ability to pay,” but to no luck. There was also the issue of translation for non-English speaking vendors who attended city council meetings focusing on these permits. 

“We’d like to hear what the councilmembers are saying at the moment because it’s a decision that will affect our lives,” Mayra Hernandez, a street vendor who attended a meeting back in November, told Curbed LA. “And we don’t know if it’s good or bad because we can’t understand.”

This lack of fluid communication has seemed to follow into the new program rollout as many vendors have questions, mainly if they will be able to afford the $541 permit fee. According to a 2015 report by the Economic Roundtable, Sidewalk Stimulus: Economic and Geographic Impact of Los Angeles Street Vendors, LA street vendors “generate on average $204 a week or $10,098 a year in revenue.” This would essentially mean that vendors would have have to use almost three weeks of work to pay for the pricey $541 fee.

 “$541 is a huge part of the rent for people here,” Ramon Lopez, who lives in MacArthur Park, one of the most busiest street vending sections of LA, told the California Globe. “It’s what they make in nearly a month. It buys groceries for a long time.

This leaves a big question mark on the viability of the new street vending program and if the pricey fees will only encourage some vendors to not comply with regulations.  

Street vending plays a big role in the economy of L.A. outside of just vendors’ pockets. They help create foot traffic in city streets and other small businesses that creates a ripple economic effect on those local communities.

With these new regulations in place, the question is now if these businesses can afford to operate legally? That is a question on the minds of many community leaders and street vendors that fought for these regulations for years. 

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Viral Video Of Overworked Texas Dominos Workers Burdened By Snow Storm Goes Viral

Things That Matter

Viral Video Of Overworked Texas Dominos Workers Burdened By Snow Storm Goes Viral

NAJMUL HAQUE/ Getty

Texas’s current power crisis from a devastating storm has disrupted power generation and frozen natural gas pipelines. The is historic storm has driven electric demand higher than the state has ever seen, but it’s not just electric energy being overextended as a result. It’s physical and mental human energy as well.

Recently, an image of two exhausted Domino’s Pizza workers went viral for showing the extreme exhaustion workers are experiencing.

In a post shared to News4sanantonio.com’s Chime In page a user by the name of July DeLuna explained “This Dominos in San Antonio. Working during this crisis. They had a weekend worth of food and it was gone within 4 hours. This team helped those that needed help. These are the essential workers that need recognition. They were the only pizza place open. Every pizza place was closed but dominos stayed open to help those in need.”

Little else is known about the exhausted workers in the viral image but it did rack up over 8K comments within hours of being posted.

“Dominoes better pay them for the shifts they’ll miss while they don’t have any ingredients. With this practical free advertising it’s the least they could do. Otherwise these kind people worked themselves out of already bad hourly pay,” one user commented.

“,As someone who works in the food service industry, the thought of selling out of all product in only four hours and how much work goes in to preparing that much food is unfathomable levels of nightmare fuel,” another noted.

In another response to the image, a Reddit user wrote “I cannot express to you how upsetting it is to be the only food source open during hard times, to still be open and show up to do your job with higher than normal levels of orders, and still get yelled at by management for not having orders out within a window of time.”

Images of overworked and stressed is nothing new of course.

Fast-food workers are often burdened by their field’s daily challenges. In 2020, food industry workers are being forced to endure customer abuse at even higher rates. Last year a TikTok video of a Subway restaurant falling asleep while in the middle of making a sandwich went viral.

“This is actually really sad. I can’t imagine how underslept she is. Not to mention the wage people get paid at Subway… She deserves better,” one TikTok user by the name of Monique Emilia commented at the time. The skincare influencer Hyram also commented writing “Poor thing… Can’t imagine how underslept she is, we’re too hard on service workers.”

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CDC Warns Of Listeria Outbreak Linked To ‘Hispanic-Style’ Cheeses

Culture

CDC Warns Of Listeria Outbreak Linked To ‘Hispanic-Style’ Cheeses

Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning everyone against “Hispanic-style” cheeses linked to a listeria outbreak. The latest food outbreak is attacking one of the most sacred things in our diets and people have a lot of opinions.

Listeria has been detected in “Hispanic-style” cheeses, according to the CDC.

According to a warning from the CDC, listeria has been detected in what they are calling “Hispanic-style” cheeses. This means that people should avoid queso fresco and queso blanco. The source of the outbreak is being tracked and there is some understanding about where the outbreak is coming from.

The CDC recommends that people avoid these cheeses right now and to make sure that the cheeses they buy are made from “pasteurized milk.” Listeria is a serious illness for the elderly, people who are immunocompromised, and pregnant people.

The CDC reports that Connecticut officials have found Listeria in some El Abuelito queso fresco. The cheese was purchased from a supermarket in the area where a patient purchased “Hispanic-style” cheese. The outbreak seems to be concentrated in the Northeastern United States and has impacted four states.

Seven people have been hospitalized because of the Listeria outbreak.

The announcement is a very personal attack for a lot of people. Queso fresco and queso blanco are very important for a lot of dishes in our cuisine and to go without, during Lent and Covid, is asking a lot of us.

People are kind of irked that the CDC didn’t use a different phrase to talk about the cheese.

We get that technically the cheese is in Spanish and that it is more commonly used in Latino food. However, the cheeses have names that can be used. Sure, there was no idea of the brand but would it really be that hard to say “queso fresco and queso blanco”?

At least it would have prevented other people from having to answer other people’s questions.

It’s called efficiency. Some news outlets were sharing images of yellow queso dip because it is also technically a “Hispanic-style” cheese but it not the cheese in question.

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