The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to draft a law that would decriminalize sidewalk vending, in an effort to protect immigrants vulnerable to deportation.
Hawking food and goods on the sidewalk can currently lead to misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles. City attorneys will now be tasked with drawing up a new ordinance that would strip those criminal penalties and authorize the city to eventually issue vending permits.
City staffers say it could take months, however, for Los Angeles to work out all of the details and begin to hand out permits to vendors. In the meantime, vendors who ply their trade on city sidewalks could still be cited and fined for violating the municipal code, but would not face criminal convictions.
Lawyers are also supposed to report back on whether the city can offer “amnesty” to vendors already facing criminal charges. City prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges for sidewalk vending in more than two dozen cases between October 2015 and October 2016, according to the city attorney’s office.
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