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Rough Life for Hot Dog Vendors

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007, at 01:01AM

There's an article in today's LA Times about how Downtown street vendors aren't too pleased with LAPD increasing code enforcement and impounding carts. It's hard to take an article about hot dog vendors too seriously, but this is actually an interesting subject for Downtown.

In the year since he started selling hot dogs in downtown Los Angeles, street vendor Eliseo Cruz said, he has been forced to shell out $35 for parking tickets on most days. For Cruz, it was the cost of doing business on a street corner with enough foot traffic to keep his sales profitable.

But now he often gets two and sometimes three tickets per day, so the cost is adding up.

"I wish they would just let us work," Cruz said. "We rely on this business to pay bills."

So on Wednesday morning, Cruz joined dozens of other hot dog vendors on the steps of City Hall to protest what they say is an aggressive campaign to crack down on their businesses.

I've long been amazed at the lack of code enforcement when it comes to vending. Certainly the big issue is those operating without permits and without necessary sanitary safeguards. That's fairly straight-forward, though you could certainly make the case that licenses should be made easier to acquire.

More interesting to me is the way vendors come to the same spot every day, operating out of parking spots as if they were their storefronts. There's a certain hot dog stand that's out in front of Macy's Plaza every day at lunch time in the same spot. Between the cart and the van that tows it there they take up the same two spots for four or five hours every day. That's not legal.

Is that good or bad? There are arguments to each, but just letting it go doesn't answer the question. Enforce the law or change the law, but don't just ignore it.

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