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Local Business Owners Fight to Remove Street Vendors

Business owners are fighting to remove street vendors due to economic repercussions and health hazards.

Small business owners and residents voiced their concerns about local vendors at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

The business owners in the Florence-Firestone area explained that the presence of vendors is hurting the livelihood of their companies.

"It's overwhelming, the amount of vendors that are on the street,'' Antonio Moreno, a small business owner, told the board. "At this point, I'm in danger of closing my business.''

Residents are worried about the economic repercussions and health hazards presented by vendors who are handling food without access to clean water.

Vendors sell meat and dairy products, and sometimes even set up chairs for those who do not want to take food to go.

Others sell goods similar to those of local store owners at lower prices, which hurts business owners.

Advocates for vendors say these individuals are doing their best to stay afloat during hard economic times.

"Street vending is a symptom of macroeconomic issues,'' said Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Now. "A lot of the vendors are older and chronically unemployed.''

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended that the county strengthen ordinances to regulate illegal vending at Tuesday's board meeting.

Under current regulations, deputies must rely on public health officials to investigate vendors, according to Captain Joseph Gooden of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Century Station.

"We needed to have more bite from a county ordinance,'' Gooden said. "Something that would give my deputies the ability to enforce this.''

The problem with regulation is that once one vendor is shut down, another vendor comes in and takes up that space.

The board encouraged staff members to create an ordinance and hold a public hearing to further discuss the matter.

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