A walk through any of the major streets in New York City and you will see immigrant street vendors lining every corner selling goods from hot dogs to hallal to cut up fruit to hats and tourist souvenirs. Take a stroll in Los Angeles and you will find a similar scene – primarily Latinx street vendors cheerfully selling tacos, paletas,elote, and more – but there is one major difference between these two images. Street vending in New York has been legal for decades, while in Los Angeles street vending is a crime. Despite numerous efforts in the past several decades by grassroots organizations, local Los Angelenos, and national street vending campaigns, Los Angeles policy makers are just now proposing plans to legalize street vending. While policy makers are taking a step in the right direction, the proposals are tentative, highly restrictive, and do not consider all consequences. This paper seeks to explore the questions: How have Latinx street vendors contributed to the cultural and physical environments of Los Angeles? What would happen to these environments if Los Angeles does not adequately legalize street vendors? And what are the implications of the current proposed laws as they relate to Latinx street vendors’ future ability to add to the Los Angeles landscape? Latinx street vendors, have been a vital piece of place-making in Los Angeles through their multi-layered community building with store owners, customers, and each other. If Los Angeles policy makers do not consider the place-making value of its street vendors and enact an overly restrictive vending permit system, the Los Angeles cultural and physical environments will change dramatically.
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