The colorful rainbow umbrellas of street vendors have long been an iconic part of the LA landscape, appearing on street corners from Boyle Heights to Hollywood.
These vendors sell everything from fruit and hot dogs to clothes and toys, but until now they've been forced to operate illegally. After years of protests and campaigning from vendors and advocates, the city of LA will finally recognize street vendors as legitimate entrepreneurs.
The LA City Council voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of legalizing street vending for the first time in the city.
The vote came after a nearly decade-long grassroots campaign led by vendors and nonprofits who sought to decriminalize the actions of LA's iconic street vendors.
Hundreds of vendors and their families packed the city council chambers Wednesday at City Hall to await the decision. Cheers and applause erupted from the crowd when the outcome was announced.
At a press conference after the vote, City Councilman Gil Cedillo said the legalization of street vending means that these "micro enterprises," many run by immigrants, will now be fully included in LA's economy and society.
"In the darkness of the Trump era, this is the beacon, this is the light," he said.
Cedillo praised the efforts of the grassroots campaign and champions for vendors, including the nonprofits Leadership for Urban Renewal Network and the East Los Angeles Community Corporation.
It's been a nearly 10-year fight for legalization in Los Angeles but a recent statewide decision helped add momentum. In September, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed state Senate Bill 946, which decriminalized street vending statewide, but left the permitting process up to individual cities.
Several city council members referenced this state legislative decision as a force that spurred the final push to legalization in Los Angeles.
Councilman Curren Price, who introduced the motion to legalize vending in Los Angeles five years ago, said that the official permitting system should be in place by the first months of 2019. This should give vendors a path to obtain proper licensing although some advocates worry that the permits might not be affordable for many vendors.
"Now that sidewalk vending is finally legal we set our sights on implementing a city wide permit system," Price said. "This is indeed a historic day in LA."