For Immediate Release: May 25, 2022


LOS ANGELES — Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council adopted Councilmember Nithya Raman’s resolution, co-presented by Councilmember Kevin De León, in support of California Senate Bill 972 which calls for changes to the California Retail Food Code to create a more inclusive, practical system for regulating food safety that realistically allows for sidewalk vendors to operate legally. Introduced by Senator Lena Gonzalez, SB972 would eliminate unnecessary and expensive equipment requirements for sidewalk-based carts and provide increased discretion for local health departments to approve innovative equipment design for all mobile food facilities. 

“Sidewalk vendors are synonymous with Los Angeles and make up an integral part of the City’s local economic infrastructure. Yet, the state food code makes it nearly impossible for vendors to meet compliance standards,” said Councilmember Raman. “Senator Gonzalez’s proposed bill would prioritize necessary changes to the California Retail Food Code that will bring sidewalk vendors into the formal economy – a long overdue safeguard.” 

Despite the City of Los Angeles decriminalizing sidewalk vending in 2017 and beginning a process to establish a vendor permitting system, the City continues to face barriers to formalizing its street vending economy — especially with regards to food vending. The California Retail Food Code (CRFC) and Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health (DPH) currently dictate food safety regulations in the City of Los Angeles and are the greatest obstacle to vendors securing necessary permits to legally vend.

SB 972 removes barriers to accessing food vending permits by creating a “compact food facility” category, requiring the State Department of Public Health to develop standardized sidewalk vending food carts, easing the application process to obtain a health permit, and reducing health permit fees. Additionally, it would replace harsh criminal penalties with non-criminal administrative fines for violations of the California Retail Food Code. 

“Today, the City of LA took an important step in advancing solutions to help street food vendors continue to be the cultural icons they are, instead of having them caught in a web of compliance and enforcement, even years after the state decriminalized street vending,” said Lyric Kelkar, Policy Director for Inclusive Action for the City. “This resolution showcases Los Angeles’ support for these small businesses and the value they add to our neighborhoods and economies.”

SB 972 heads to the California Senate floor this week for a full vote.