Four Los Angeles nonprofits will receive funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to help street vendors.
The New York financial institution is committing $5 million over three years to the Open Air Economy Collaborative, which includes nonprofits Inclusive Action for the City, the California Reinvestment Coalition, the legal clinic pro bono Public Counsel and East LA Community Corp.
Sarah Bowles, vice president of global philanthropy for Chase, said the ultimate goal is to help street vendors operate more formally within the economy.

“They generate considerable economic activity in Los Angeles; however, there have been a number of systemic barriers that have prevented them from fully participating and being fully integrated into the formal economy,” Bowles said.

One of the hurdles for vendors is that the actual authorization process is complicated and expensive.
“The figure I’ve seen is that they can spend an average of $30,000 on permits and equipment, which for a small micro business starting out is quite a start-up cost,” said Bowles.

An August 2021 report on the sale of street food by the Community Economic Development Clinic and the UCLA Law School Public Council, titled “Unfinished Business,” estimated total start-up costs at between 10 $490.00 and $14,194.00 to sell unpackaged food.

Additionally, many of the applications and forms that vendors must complete to obtain permits and other licenses are only available in the most widely spoken and used languages, Bowles added.

“They’re mostly in English, so there are language barriers as well,” she said. On the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services website, the page with street vendor brochures lists 12 languages ​​other than English available for download.

According to a September 2019 Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign article on the LA2050 website, there were some 50,000 street vendors in the city, representing a $504 million industry.

In November 2018, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance legalizing street vending in the city.
“With legalization, we can expect to see those numbers (50,000 vendors) increase as street vending becomes a safer way to make a living – especially for women and people of color,” said the campaign message of street vendors.

A year before the council’s action, it passed an ordinance decriminalizing street vending over fears that immigrant vendors would be endangered by criminal charges under the then-Trump administration, limiting possible penalties to administrative fines.

Local vendors

Outside the parking lot of 24-Hour Fitness on Empire Avenue in Burbank, Andrew Gallegos can be found six days a week selling cups of fruit from his cart, Mr. Fruits 818.
The 29-year-old San Fernando Valley resident said the hardest thing to do as a street vendor these days is access to a commissioner, a necessity to obtain a business license from from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

“The health department won’t give you a permit if you don’t have a commissioner to go to,” Gallegos said. “A commissioner is essential even before applying for a permit.”
The Commissary is where the fruit Gallegos sells is cut and where his cart is washed and cleaned.

There are commissars in the east of the valley, but they cater to food trucks. So Gallegos said he was going to one at Northridge, in the western valley. For the shaved ice he needs to keep his fruit cold, he travels to North Hollywood. Traveling to both places takes time and gas.
“It’s (a) difficult situation for a lot of fruit sellers because gasoline is expensive,” Gallegos explained. “With the little money we earn, we try to come here and provide for everyone who needs fruit.”

Gallegos took advantage of services offered by Initiating Change in Our Neighborhoods Community Development Corp., or ICON CDC. The nonprofit, which has offices in Pacoima and Van Nuys, is currently helping Gallegos obtain his DBA, a “doing business as” designation.

Last month, it was announced that ICON would receive $500,000 in government funding to provide micro-grants to street vendors, as well as entrepreneurial training. The money, which comes from the California Employment Training Panel’s Social Entrepreneurs for Economic Development (SEED) program, is intended to help entrepreneurship for immigrants and people with limited English skills who face significant barriers to employment. ‘use. State Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg said he appreciates ICON’s long history of supporting small business owners in the Valley.

“They have the experience and local vendors trust them to run this program,” Hertzberg said in a statement. Salespeople like Jorge Hernandez.
Hernandez currently operates a street vending cart selling sandwiches to Van Nuys and Pacoima, originally from his hometown of Jalisco, Mexico. Traditionally made on baguette buns, the bread is toasted in a panini grill after being dipped in a spicy sauce and topped with Mexican cream. It’s then filled with pork, including pork loin or pulled pork, Hernandez said through an interpreter, ICON project manager Elizabeth Padilla.

Like Gallegos, Hernandez also took advantage of ICON services, including business class. There were many things he was unaware of until he started the ICON programs. He then realized there was a lot of free information being offered, Hernandez said.

“Thanks to the program, I am able to move forward with my project and benefit from all the courses I have taken, and all the training, and I hope to establish myself legally soon,” he said. declared.
Hernandez added that he has already received some of the easiest permits to obtain, such as a business license from the city of Los Angeles, a state vendor’s license and a food handler’s license.

“I’m working on getting an approved food truck license if I can get the funding, and then finally getting my (county) health department license,” Hernandez said, via Padilla.