LA moves closer to legalizing street vending

By Emily Goldberg

Vendors at the Los Angeles Street Vendors Campaign rally chant "Si se puede." | Emily Goldberg

Vendors at the Los Angeles Street Vendors Campaign rally chant “Si se puede” as councilmen Jose Huizar and Curren Price take to the lectern.| Emily Goldberg

Street-side bacon-wrapped hotdog carts arguably contribute to L.A.’s identity just as much as its traffic and celebrity sightings. Although the delicious service that street vendors provide has remained illegal throughout the city, that may soon change.

In its meeting Tuesday, the Economic Development Committee approved a framework for citywide street vending regulations, moving the long awaited policy goal one step closer to completion. The framework outlines the tasks and responsibilities of several city departments including the Bureau of Street Services and the Los Angeles Police Department.

“I agree with my colleagues that this plan, as we would say in Sacramento, is not cooked yet,” said councilman Gilbert Cedillo. “But …this is an idea whose time as come. This process of legalization is a process that cannot be stopped.”

See also: South LA street cooks could soon go legit [Read more…]

Councilman Parks votes against restructuring trash disposal system

On a 12-1 vote, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to completely redo the way it disposes of garbage from apartment complexes and businesses in a hope to clean up a situation that some people think is stinky.

Listen to an audio version of this story from Annenberg Radio News: 

The bill was spearheaded by Councilman Jose Huizar. It would restructure garbage collection by giving private haulers one of 11 franchises across Los Angeles. It will also require the haulers to recycle. In the past, trash collectors of businesses and apartments simply dumped all trash in Los Angeles area landfills. [Read more…]

South LA street cooks could soon go legit

Felipa Mayo cooks tacos each weekend outside her home on Compton Boulevard. | Daina Beth Solomon

Felipa Mayo cooks tacos each weekend outside her home on Compton Boulevard. Scroll down for a photo slideshow featuring other street cooks and street foods. | Daina Beth Solomon

Felipa Mayo starts her job the same way each weekend. She heads out to the sidewalk of her stucco bungalow on Compton Boulevard and checks to make sure there are no cops around.

Then she pulls a white toque over her brown hair bun, sets up a few folding tables in the driveway and unpacks the contraband she’s so worried about getting busted for selling: Tacos.

The corn tortillas served with chicken, beef or goat could get Mayo in trouble with the law.

The hundred other weekend vendors on this bustling stretch of Compton Boulevard in South Los Angeles -– some selling quesadillas, burritos and pupusas, others hawking merchandise ranging from electronics to underwear – operate with caution too. [Read more…]

City council considers more murals for South L.A.

A June 2013 photo of a mural outside a home in South L.A. | Intersections

A mural outside a home in South L.A., as seen in June 2013 | Subrina Hudson

The L.A. City Council considered an ordinance Thursday that would allow single-family homes in South L.A. to paint exterior murals. The ordinance would affect Boyle Heights and Highland Park as well.

Bernard Parks was the lone council member who opposed mural ordinance in a 14-1 vote, saying that individual communities should decide whether residents can paint murals on the sides of their homes.

The response from community members was mixed.

Hear their comments in an audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

[Read more…]

Mural by Mexican artist restored and unveiled


Exactly eighty years after it was first unveiled, America Tropical was welcomed back into the public eye by members of the Mexican and arts communities.

The mural on Olvera Street is by world-renowned Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. It was completed in 1932, but was painted over within a decade. This was widely seen as an attempt to squelch political expression by Mexican immigrants.

The organizers made it clear, that this time the mural is here to stay. The nearly ten-million-dollar project was funded by the Getty and the City of Los Angeles and included restoring the painting and installing a protective canopy and sun shades to protect it from further damage from sun, rain and birds.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Sequeiro’s work was an inspiration to political public artists all over the world. Villaraigosa spoke Tuesday morning about how the mural represents his Mexican grandmother’s journey to Los Angeles. She came here with nothing but a dream, he said in Spanish. “By conserving and displaying this masterpiece we are repaying our debt and honoring Siqueiros and his work” Villaraigosa said.

The mayor and others hinted at the challenges public art has faced in recent years. Ten years ago, the city of Los Angeles enacted a ban on signage that restricted murals, billboards and large-scale advertisements to designated parts of the city.

Rich advertisers began monopolizing space in the designated areas, which essentially silenced muralists and public artists. Over the last year, Councilman Jose Huizar has been pushing a mural ordinance to restore rights to public artists. “This is about history, it’s about censorship, it’s about art and it’s also about bringing Los Angeles together to a place that started the mural movement in the whole world,” Huizar said.

The ordinance, however, has been delayed because the city planning commission and artists can’t agree to the terms. Muralist Daniel Lahoda, the owner of LaLa Gallery and producer of the LA Freewalls Project, supports the ordinance.

“There’s such a great value in the public arts, there’s economic value, there is cultural value, aesthetic value and emotional value,” Lahoda said outside of Novelty Café, an eclectic coffee shop in the heart of L.A.’s arts district. “It just provides incredible energy overall to the lives of the community.”

Lahoda recently created a mural at the Skid Row Housing development. He believes that as long as property owners and community members support the art, the city should have no grounds to stop it. He said part of the problem is that the city makes money off illegal graffiti and doesn’t want to give up that revenue. “I have a hunch, a pretty strong hunch that the city attorney’s office is continuing to delay the mural ordinance specifically to maintain the power of the graffiti abatement community and their role in that community,” Lahoda said.

Representatives for the city attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The mural ordinance is scheduled to be discussed at the city planning commission’s next meeting on Thursday morning.