My mom was arrested for illegally selling tamales

“You know they cannot do this, without permits, they cannot do this without making sure the Health Department is on board, and the impact it has on the community—you have restaurants that are there with permits and so forth, they have the proper equipment, they have sinks, they have restrooms and then you have people on the streets that are vending illegally and it’s against the law. And now basically what the officers are doing is enforcing the codes,” said Hollenbeck Division Police Captain Anita Ortega. ~ Quote from the EGP News Article “We were treated like common criminals.”

“Although I can understand the plight of the illegal vendors, I am totally against the fact that they have been allowed to conduct business in Boyle Heights and other communities in Los Angeles. It is important to note that these individuals are taking away from the legal business owners who are doing everything that is require by law that includes paying taxes, insurance, rent and often employing others from the community. We need to take a stand and demand that the various agencies that should be taking steps to stop these vendors (police, city and local government taxing agencies, health department and local electeds) should be doing just that….ensure that all laws are enforced….no excuses. It should be noted that most of the City of Los Angeles does not have have this problem due to proper enforcement. We only ask for the same enforcement actions. We need to protect our business owners and the community members against the health hazards and fraud that is associated with illegal vending. Our neighborhoods deserve better. I look forward to our elected representatives to do the right thing and get a handle on this situation. There is no middle ground on this issue. This needs to be stopped NOW.” ~ Comment posted from the same article by Renee Chavez

“Besides, even with this new found permanence, Antojitos Carmen still sets up on the sidewalk around the corner from its restaurant every night, the Ortegas bringing their food back to the people who helped put them in their current two-kitchen position. It’s cooking with respect and gratitude.” ~ Quote from the L.A. Times Article “Antojitos Carmen, street food inside four walls

“Until recently, the center of the Eastside street-food universe was located in a small parking lot on Breed Street in Boyle Heights, a nocturnal band of vendors drawing customers from as far away as Riverside and San Diego, serving sticky, sizzling, crunchy, meaty snacks from all over Mexico; salsas hot enough to burn small, butterfly-shaped patches into the leather of your shoes; and quart-size foam cups of homemade orange drink. Over here were huaraches; over there Mexico City–style quesadillas; crunchy flautas; sugary churros; gooey tacos al vapor. The vendors never stayed open quite late enough, but Breed Street had become something of an institution, a place to take out of town visitors, a great quick dinner before a show. Sometimes there were even clowns.” ~ Quote from Jonathan Golds article from the LAWeekly “Fried in East L.A. : Antojito’s Carmen and the Breed Street Band of Mexican Vendors.

“Nina Garcia, who for the last two decades has served up Mexico City-style delicacies on street corners in Boyle Heights, took home top honors at the first-ever L.A. Vendy Awards on Saturday. Judges said it was her supple quesadillas and spicy pambazos that did the trick. Nina’s Food beat out street vendor newcomers such as the Grilled Cheese Truck along with old favorites, including East L.A.’s Tacos el Galuzo.” From the L.A. Now blog post, “Nina Garcia is L.A.’s top street food chef.

“In the hierarchy of immigrant occupations, street vending is near the bottom. It is for those who can’t find work at a factory or in construction or who think that maybe they’ll do better working for themselves. It’s a job from which you can’t be laid off, but you have to work long hours every day to make a living.” From the L.A. Times Article “L.A. vendor pushes a balky cart through a precarious world”

“Her food never got anyone sick, she never left trash or a mess where she sold, in fact she cleaned the side walk because local store owners didn’t. She works from 6 to 9-10 a.m. before all the local restaurants open up. Serving all the people that are on their way to work, running morning errands or like me, on their way to school. She buys what she needs from all the local mom and pop stores where we live. She makes what she needs and repeats the process and was able to make a living from that. She pays her taxes with an ITIN and relies on no one but herself to make that living. She is self sustainable. But the law is the law and she doesn’t have a permit, she isn’t above the law.” Quote from my personal blog about her getting arrested.

There is no gray area when it comes to street vendors. On one side of the coin you have the people who love them and frequent them. On the other you have the people who hate them, want them gone and call the cops on them. This is a battle that I have been personally involved in for most of my life, but after my mom got arrested for selling her tamales this past Saturday, it took it to a whole new level. My intentions for this post aren’t to change anyone’s mind about accepting street vendors in Boyle Heights. I don’t need to weigh the pros and cons because I’ve made it clear that I support all vendors.  Nor to garner sympathy from anyone for what happened.

My intentions are to give a voice to those who cannot have theirs be heard. Through my experiences as a community organizer, I realized long ago that putting  face behind an issue has a greater impact. This is what this blog space was created for. To create conversations and dialogue that isn’t happening anywhere else and certainly not in the main stream media as often as it should. One thought that crosses my mind is that some residents just don’t want immigrants in the community anymore. The kind of immigrants that are street vendors. The kind that are denied a space for rent because the landlord doesn’t want them messing their house up and living with extended family. It could also be because there is an election coming up and the city needs to look like it’s doing its job, clearing out all the riff-raff. Least that’s what Victoria D. said to me.

The gentrification of Boyle Heights has already started. Street vendors go where they are needed and where they are wanted. This is the BH I know. Even with local vendors organizing the evening farmers market, it’s still not enough. Council Member Jose Huizar knows vendors are part of life here, but he also has to make  sure the laws are enforced. There are tax paying  constituents and businesses to be mindful of. The police don’t want to shoo away street vendors, but the calls to remove them are made.

In processing everything that happened and how the system is set up, there is no clear answer on how to go about solving this issue. There is no balance. Just chaos. For more than 20 years, my aunt and my mom after her, have been selling tamales in BH. They never got anyone sick. They always cleaned their space. They know the people in the barrio and they know them. And as I sit here thinking of what has yet to happen, I realize that I have to stop going to school to help the family. I have to throw away  part of my life and the sacrifices my parents made all these years to grant me the opportunity to go to school and not end up working a job like theirs.

I agree with people that everyone should play by the “rules.” That we should have clean side walks and that peoples parking spaces not be blocked off by cars. I also agree with the people who want to be able to be self sustainable by selling food. To be able to live in a safe community and not have to starve to make ends meat. The gentrification of BH isn’t going to come from outsiders who move here and raise property and rents prices. Rather, it’s coming from the people that live within the community who don’t want immigrants making their neighborhoods all trashy and Tijuana-like. By the time outsiders move here, BH will be ready for them because all the “Mexicans” have been driven out already. Who wants to live in a place that doesn’t want them ? I know I don’t. So, I’ll move.

51 thoughts on “My mom was arrested for illegally selling tamales

  1. That’s some crazy BS! I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, I hope she is okay.
    The vendors exist because they are wanted. Isn’t that what capitalism is about, supply and demand? Many of the restaurants in BH suck, they make crappy, greasy, lardy food that I don’t want to eat and that’s why I’d rather go to a street vendor that makes more traditional food. The restaurants need to make better food if they want customers, not blame other people for making a superior product.
    It’s also incredibly selfish of them, the economy is bad and you’d think they would try and help out some fellow paisanos but as we know, our communities have always been fractured and lack solidarity.
    Shame on Huizar and the LAPD for not allowing folks to make a living!

  2. This city is notorious for cracking down on anyone that wants to use our public space without their approval, be it vendors, cruisers, disco bunnies, or youth just hanging out. They make no concessions to human needs, they just trot out some words on paper signed by a successive list of jerks. Screw that.
    If they want to make life criminal, well then lets just be criminals.

  3. Very good Random,heartfelt.I still want to try your moms tamales, I hope her spirits are up, text me when she is back 🙂

  4. I too love the street vendors. I am sorry but as recent as last wek I went to Cierros across from the infomus Manuels on Evergreen. The rice was dry and taste less the taquitos too hard to bite, you order chile with carne you get more chile then carne. Manuels too if you peer threw the window while ordering you will see the mess in the kitchen food everywhere so dirty there food has changed over the years an I am sorry to say street venors just have what it takes whenit comes to cooking however it’shard in todays sociecty to rent and establish a new bussiness. I will continue to buy from street venors. There is no real good place to eat out anymore. I worked in a restraunt it was seasonal I miss it I can cook wonderful butI tolike to be cook ed for once in a while. sorry to put 2 of BH famous places to eat on blast but its the truth and thats just a drop in the bucket I could go on and on

  5. I would’ve thought that a citation would have been enough, but to have this senora handcuffed and put in the back of a squad car and placed in a jail cell? That’s just so disrespectul and demeaning to the dignity of this lady and a total waste of our taxes and resources!

  6. Yeah a citation would should have sufficed.

    But it makes you wonder if the city noticed that the fines were not enough to discourage street vendors from being out there. Im sure someone kept complaining.

  7. it really is unfortunate that your mom had to get arrested. i don’t see why a citation would not be enough. Arresting someone for this seems like a total waste of time. That has to take an officer off the streets for an hour. Seems like a horrible thing to be taking hollenbeck police time for. Its Boyle Heights there are numerous other things and people they could be going after. How many shooting were there in the neighbor the last couple of weeks?

    However, its clear from reading the comments on the article on the Eastside Sun website, that even local residents are not allows in favor of street vendors. Not sure if gentrification is the correct term to use, since it the local residence who are effecting the change. I personally think there maybe a middle ground. Removing vendors from breed and chavez has resulted in them spreading throughout the area. Whatever happened to the plans for a space for vendors?

  8. They really need to come up with a licensing program for street vendors, as well as declaring certain areas where they’re allowed to sell. There are plenty of empty city-owned parking lots in the evening, or street corners like Soto & Cesar Chavez where the local businesses would actually welcome the additional foot traffic they would draw to the area late in the evening.

    They should make them understand proper health department food regulations, test them on it, and license them. No different than getting a driver’s license, and having it expire after a certain period of time, except that legal status shouldn’t play into it.

    Try it out as a pilot program. It’ll cost less than hiring at least 20 LAPD officers at $100k per year (wages + benefits + overtime + pension) to enforce unhumane laws (the minimum amount of officers needed to sweep the city every night of all street vendors).

  9. That’s F’n BS! Here we have a hard working woman just trying to make a living and these heartless bastards just kill it. I mean god forbid they try and stop a “Real” criminal on the street dealing drugs or a perve trying to pick up on little high school girls…Yeah let’s pick on a lady and mess up her business..It’s madness!

    I’ve seen cops tear down raspado vendors carts, tip over a woman’s cart full of oranges, and even at the park, some harrassed our fruit man…I’ve had to run and tell the cops that he was my uncle…He was left alone but here and there he still gets alot of heat.

    The working Man/Woman isn’t a sucker! They are just struggling to survive.

  10. A warning would have been sufficient for the lady, no need to arrest her!! I agree, why can’t the restaurants make soft tacos as good or better than the trucks??,in general, they can’t, so they should just let the trucks do their business, you don’t see “El Tepeyac” bothered by some trucks, I know they don’t park by El Tepeyac, but the point I’m trying to make is that they take care of business and make very popular, good tasting, huge amounts of food!!

  11. reminds me of the recent “roach coach” debacle — a few years ago it was a blight on the city’s fine streets that needed to be eradicated. then upscale westside trendite chefs started doing it, and now we’ve got trucks all over the city getting all kinds of positive press, reviews and t.v. airtime. while it still may be illegal, the trucks get a $45-50 parking ticket that they can pay off with seven minutes of sales.

    just goes to show ye: when we do it, it’s a crime; when they do it, it’s cuisine.

  12. Whoa,
    I dont know what to say. That is some Bee effin Ess! Muchas Gracias, El Random, for sharing that piece of your personal life. I think the LEAST we all can do is contact councilman Huizar’s BH office and complain about what a waste it is to be doing this in a major recession. Contact Jesse Leon or one of his field reps like Rocio Hernandez at 323 526 3059, let them know (respectfully and coherently) that you do not condone this kind of activity and that there are MANY Eastside residents who condone and appreciate street vending.

    How much was the citation for? I would HIGHLY recommend contacting the East LA Community Corporation, they work with vendor rights and are organizing vendors in the area, they may be of assistance. Im sure you prolly are on it and dont need my help, but I know a few employees just in case.

    The street vending reality is even troublesome to many eastsiders and latinos because it is viewed as an indicator of poverty, or blight. That is a horrible way to frame people making a living, but that objectification is what enables people to view someone’s livelihood as warranting penalization.

    I also have lived next to places where street vending occurred, especially when I lived off whittier bl. It is true, there are often some negative side effects, like trash and trouble at spots that attract borachos; but overall vending is a positive and necessary aspect of urban LA. I dont even listen to the sanitary issue, Ive grown up off taco trucks and eloteros and never gotten sick from their food, cant say the same for posh restaraunts. Even if it was an issue, you’d think eating food off improvised shopping carts and strollers would imply “eat at your own risk”.

    Street vending is a necessary dynamic in LA composition. In the western hemisphere, every Latino city has public spaces where its working class residents are able to sell things for money. Its an excellent entreprenuerial (bad spelling I think) mechanism for the humblest ranks of society, helps create a more vibrant and safer street environment, and as in the of Eastlos, creates a marketable and authentic cultural niche that should be promoted and enjoyed rather than attacked.

    When I was in planning school we had several classes where the street vending discussion came up, and I repeatedly read studies that showed how street vending actually creates complimentary business for nearby restaraunts and shops and creates a safer vibrant atmosphere. If it werent for the neglectful practices of our urban institutions cultivating the negative aspects of street vending (adequate street maintenance and cleaning, public trashcans and restrooms, police presence at late night activity nodes), many of the problems associated with vending would be reduced significantly.

    I hate hearing all these foolios talking about how they want downtown to be vibrant and active, and then advocate criminalizing street vending in the same breath. If it were european immigrants selling hot dogs on street carts it’d be celebrated as urban culture.

  13. So, how many vendors should there be? –10, 20 on every corner, as many as want to be there? While I feel sympathy for these women–its hard out there –and shame on the police for arresting them– the fact is they are taking business away from other people who also have families,hire from the local community and pay taxes. When you cut into their business they have to cut back hours or let people go–what about them and their families, do you give a damn about them?

    You can say all you want that they are not hurting anyone, and maybe individually they aren’t but collectively, they are creating a problem, adding to the underground economy

    What about the people who want East LA to be a city– how do they figure out how much this adds to the city? There are a lot of people who think that there should be no such thing as private property rights, I would bet many don’t own a home. As for gentrification, if you mean people investing in BH or ELA, fixing things up, I’m for it.

    And to Art- finding areas to allow vendors to sell– like they do at farmers market and swap meets may be a good idea, but I bet the vendors won’t stay beause they want to go somewhere with not too much competition– and these market places might be good in “Latino Cities”(whatever or whereever those are) but if they are like In Mexico– count me out– I don’t want to look to a thrid world country with massive poverty for how things should be done here–

  14. Loved this post. And I’m on the side with those who love and frequent food vendors. But, come on. This “There is no gray area when it comes to street vendors,” sounds very (George W.) bush league. Few things in life lack gray areas and street vending isn’t an exception. I’m all for advocating on behalf of those whose voice isn’t heard, but summarily dismissing legitimate concerns is not a sustainable approach. At least if you’re a food vendor, as opposed to, say, a George W. Bush.

  15. There has to be a regulations placed on street vendors, you can’t everybody and anybody selling on the corner. I used to buy Music CD and Movies around McArthur Park, but No Mas, I understand there are copyright laws.

    If the residents of the city want steet vendors then the city needs to provide an area where the street vendors can work and apply for a license to sell food.

    If someone dies and sues the city then others will be screaming about how the city was responsible for the persons death, and didn’t care about the residents.

  16. @ela mom

    As Art said,street vendors can actually make a street safer and more vibrant, making it friendlier for “legal” businesses to exist and prosper.

    Look at Highland Park, for example, where on Ave 50, York, Fig and more desolate streets, you have vendors who attract crowds–from longtime locals to the “gentrifiers”–until the early morning. That’s good for safety, right?

    The fact is, not everyone is willing to eat off street vendors, but the crowds that street vendors attract may give people the confidence they need to support four-wall restaurants on those same streets. That’s a good way to create a buzz and hopefully bring more business and a more robust economy for said street.

    An eastsider myself, I agree with you that safer streets and a more investment into our local communities is a good thing. I like to feel reasonably safe, and that’s why I support my local street vendors and will continue to support their right to exist.

  17. @ ela mom

    ” I bet the vendors won’t stay beause they want to go somewhere with not too much competition–”

    or more people would go knowing that are various vendors at one location. i.e. the former breed st vendors, farmers markets, swamp meets, all the various districts in downtown. but this only works if the location is suitable. Setting up a taco stand across the street of King Taco is going to cause a problem. a place devoid of restaurants, then it may work.

  18. This may sound harsh, but if a BH restaurant isn’t doing well, I don’t think it’s fair to blame street vendors for their lack of profits. I imagine their problems have more to do with poor service, bad food and other general inefficiencies and mismanagement. I can think of a dozen restaurants on the Eastside that fit this profile.

    I also don’t see a problem with a street vendor selling food across the street from King Taco. Many of the street vendors serve more traditional foods that include many vegetarian options. If King Taco is losing business it’s because they’re not keeping up with the times and still serving the same old meat and lard heavy foods at high prices and worse, skimping out on their salsas.

    As for the health issues, I’d much rather buy food from a someone who is accountable for the food they make and wants repeat business. Also much of the food is prepared in front of you. The same can’t be said for the big kitchens of corporate restaurants with their grumbling staff and cooks. Anything goes in those kitchens! The few times I’ve gotten food poisoning have been from corporate food chains. And no need to mention the fast food chains and the legions of I-could-care-less teenagers who work there. I’ve got stories…

    As for this whole street food vendors = third world BS, in Europe everywhere you go, there is street food. In Spain, there are Israeli falafel sellers. In Britain, you can buy meat pies and chips. France, Italy, Japan…Hey guess what ELA MOM? Those are first world countries!

    Street food vendors make very little profit off their sales. If you were to add the amount of hours needed to prepare and then sell the food, it might be less than minimum wage. I know because I tried doing street food vending and it totally wasn’t worth it. There’s a reason why immigrants and the poorest of folks are the ones who rely on this method of work for their survival.

  19. I agree about the incumbent powers that be restaurants. I went to Denny’s this weekend, and it was pretty mediocre. On the way back, we came across some El Salvadorean unlicensed cart vendors selling pupusas and juice. These illegal foods were tastier and fresher, and probably healthier than Denny’s.

    Here’s the way to bring people back into restaurants: let the vendors set up legally, in specific locations across the city. Auction off spaces, and restrict what people can sell there. (Like, they can’t sell non-food items.) Make sure there are a good mix of vendors, like a fruit seller, a juice seller, pupsa maker, taco maker.

    This will force the sit-down places to elevate their game. The main problem with many restaurants is quality. Instead of cooking to order, they simmer things forever until the flavor’s gone. Gross.

    The foot traffic to the street vendors can be re-directed to the sit-down places. The way to do it is allow all sit-down restaurants to vend on the sidewalk in front of their space. They will compete directly with street vendors. I’ve seen this happen a couple times.

    Eventually, the natural progression is that the price of the “hot” spaces will rise, and restaurants with storefronts will bring over the street vendors for the day, to attract traffic.

    PS – Did you all know that sushi started out as street food? It was preserved rice and fish (similar to the saba sushi or battera sushi), and sold from carts. They still sell that style at train stations and it’s considered a kind of nostalgic food.

    It took around 40 years for sushi to transition from the street and home kitchen to informal restaurants, and then a couple more decades to become a gourmet food.

  20. It saddens me to hear about your mom getting arrested. It seems to me that this City is in major need of funds. They are trying to get money from everywhere and they are really trying to enforce any and all laws so that they can ticket and collect fines. I was just hoping that they wouldn’t go too far, but now after hearing your story…I’m not so sure.
    Good luck. I hope they release your mom soon.

  21. El Random Hero: How insulting for you to say that all the Mexicans will be cleared out. Long time Mexican residents of Boyle Heights (both immigrant and resident) don’t want vendors in their neighborhood. Because as home owners and residents people demand a clean and healthy community devoid of trash and blight, they can only be agents of gentrification. What a narrow definition you hold of Mexican people.

    In 20 years, you can’t possibly know if someone has gotten ill. You have a self professed marginalized person selling to, whom you assume, another powerless person who understands that buying food from a street vendor, you have no redress should you actually become ill.

    I applaud your mother for cleaning the area where she vends. You are right business owners do not clean in front of their stores. This also speaks to the ills of absentee landlords who extract rents from businesses in BH and do no capital improvements. However, your mother has no control over her patrons, some of which throw trash anywhere they please. Her gain is the community’s loss.

    Don’t move; even if I don’t agree with you, your voice and experience are valued.

  22. I’ve never had a problem with street food. Had it my whole life and never got sick. Even if I had I would attribute it to being a random case because it can happen at any restaurant as well. If I got sick at one cart I’ll probably be fine at another. If I got sick at one restaurant I’m not gonna swear them off completely.

    As long as they clean up their areas I got no problem.

    As far as king taco goes…I go to the one off soto/chavez. It’s alot different than what I remember it being when I was a kid. The burritos used to be massive! My dad would get full on one…now you can easily eat 2. And the salsa skimping is my biggest gripe…. your plate comes with ONE salsa and half of the time If I don’t ask for it they don’t give it to me. They give you beef if you want extra. Get with the times yes, it’s only until recently that they’ve allowed you to pay with plastic as well….for the longest time it was cash only. The food is still good but I HARDLY frequent it because the portions are small for the high prices… Now it’s just a once in a while nostalgic treat for my dad since I don’t eat meat anyway.

    BTW we’d rather frequent the taco truck in front of the smart and final. Best tacos! As you might know, their very popular and on weekends they can run outta meat sometimes because they have so much clientele. 80 cent tacos, dollar horchatas, and all-you-can-eat toppings? Can’t beat that!

    However, one time they didn’t have the truck there they are usually in and they were selling straight from a cart…I don’t remember exactly why but I think they were waiting for their license renewal and the police came to shut them down. They did pack up and leave but they came back night after night anyway until they got their truck back and operating. They were talking to my dad telling him that lately they had been cracking down alot in the area.

    Hope everything turns out okay for you guys!


  23. We need to get people away from this dangerous street food and get them to eat safer food, that’s prepared with better standards, like Taco Bell…

  24. all jokes and sarcasm aside. i think there are some issues that the community has to deal with. I want to call it an identity crisis of where and what the community wants to be.
    To often when any arguments are made about improving things and re investing in the community the word gentrification get through in, almost like a scare tactic. i like to think of it the Cucuy de gentrification. And the problem with this is that we scare ourselves from reinvesting in the boyle heights out of the fear of change.
    I was born and raised in BH and i love a lot of things about it, but are still many areas for improvement. Too many building sit empty and dilapidated. We still deal with gangs and crime. Unemployment is still and issue, more so now.
    And now someone may ask, wtf does this have anything to do with street vendors? And like someone said before people often turn to vending as a last resort, since they cant find employment elsewhere.
    Which brings me to my point and its a of a rhetorical question. no really right or wrong.

    How do we reinvest in our community, revitalizing it all while preserving the communities culture?

  25. off the street
    May 18th, 2010 | 11:07 pm

    To often when any arguments are made about improving things and re investing in the community the word gentrification get through in…


    Actually, I don’t think it’s often enough.

  26. After some many years why didn’t your mom get her business legal. There are non-profit org that help you. Mama Hot Tamales was the first and the same non-profit org is doing it again after many succeful businesses. This non-profits are there for these reasons… To keep street vendors from being ‘pushed away’ by the police and the only way of doing this is ‘legalizing’ them. The funny thing is that since a lot of street vendors are indeed ilegal aliens they are afraid to get help. 3 links:

  27. Sorry about your mom getting arrested. I know this blog is prime real estate to blame everything on “gentrification” but please understand the situation:

    We’re living in economic times that are tough. It’s so tough that from the top to the bottom, people are trying their best to NOT lose any money. From a Corporation’s executive who just fired someone under him so he doesn’t lose his bonus this year, all the way down to the local restaurant owner who sees vendors out in the street – they’re looking at vendors and are thinking “see that person that just bought that Elote? They could have come in here and bought my food!”

    We have a unique issue in Los Angeles. At any moment, parts of L.A. can look like you’re in Mexico and other parts of Latino America, and we can sometimes get used to the idea that folks can live like they can at home, until you see a squad car and the familiar L.A. County seal, then you realize that you live in a city that has American laws and it’s not the “Gentrifiers” that are making the cops come to take your mom away, it’s the folks who’ve played ball – the ones who did whatever it took to get that permit and lease for the little restaurant.

    Again, just consider what I said earlier – the tough economic times. In these times man, people are not about “brotherly love”, it’s a “better you than me” mentality and yes, even “your own kind” will turn their backs on you if they think you’re taking a buck from them. If you think that an “outside force” such as Gentrification is what’s doing your mother in, you seriously need to think about human nature.

  28. there SHOULD be regulations. have these vendors set up a good distance from existing, tax-paying, regulated restaurants. if the restaurants close at 10, then let the puestos take over at that time. but regulate it.

    sometimes you just want to stroll down la bruk-lee without having to step in someones leftovers.

  29. Luis you almost say that is if the gentrifiers are somehow excluded from this rodent race of humanity looking to do in the least of their brethren. The business owners that are part of the gentrification wave are going for the throats of the street vendors, too. And when you consider how much more money they have to throw at this “law” you speak of…

  30. Just and observation: It’s interesting to see all of the calls for pro-capitalism (supply and demand) from this board. I’ve never seen this before; especially when it comes at the detriment to community business owners. It seems very selective to me. Let me pose these questions: Is it ok for street vendors to set up their carts in the community where they reside? What if the street vendor does not live in the community where they set up their cart and ends up stealing business from community restaurants (families) struggling to survive?

  31. Well Mike what about when some local person is selling tamales, and the nearby store is operated by someone who doesn’t live in the community? Because I think that’s really the most common situation.

    The Chambers of Commerce always have members who are in the community as well as those who do business in the community. If they relied only on locals, they’d be a tiny organization.

    BTW, I came across an eastside business organization, and they have a coupon book on their website.

  32. The Tamale Vendors who sell the tamales that are all Masa and no meat should all be arrested. The elotero who comes by early in the morning with his loud bell should also be arrested.

    If the street vendor is selling the Honduran Tamales which have rice, chicken and vegtables (yum Yum) they should be given amnesty.

    The Pupusa Vendors who can make a good pupusa “Revuelta” should also be given amnesty.

  33. “see that person that just bought that Elote? They could have come in here and bought my food!”

    This has been my point, the restaurants are not selling the same kinda food as the street vendors. Most restaurants in BH sell crap food, sorry. The ones that sell decent food, I patronize. But you can’t buy elotes, REAL quesadillas, huaraches etc. from most BH restaurants. I’m not gonna be pay $9 for a plate of soggy chile rellenos, dry re-heated rice and oily beans. It’s time for the restaurants to step up their game…

  34. a vendor will always be able to undercut a regular restaurant. I think its unfair to say restaurant is to expensive or skimps on the salsa. Especially when you consider that a restaurant has a much higher overhead cost. and a vendor well almost non. So the restaurant has to make a much higher profit to cover its cost, which amongst other things include paying staff whether or not people are patronizing the restaurant. You may not want a taco at 4 in the morning but certain places still have staff there just in case you do.
    If the food sucks well then the food sucks, thats the establishments problem.

  35. Thanks for the link Off the Street. Here’s the comment I left on the EGP website regarding the article you linked which features the owner of La Case de Tamal moaning about his lack of profits.

    First of all, I’m a fourth-generation Angelina and I totally support street food vendors. Yes, it reminds me of Mexico but it also reminds me of Europe where it is possible to buy falafel, crepes and other snack foods easily from street carts in plazas and on city streets. It’s a global thing, not a third world thing. Look at the city of Morelia in Mexico, absolutely no street vending and it’s the most boring city ever. If that’s what some folks want, there are plenty of cities like Hacienda Heights or Torrance where the streets are empty and dead – leave Los Angeles alone to cultivate a decent street culture!

    As for the Tamal Restaurant, I just had to laugh. As a food reviewer and blogger, I’ve attempted to order tamales de queso con rojas and other vegetarian friendly tamales from that establishment at least three of four different times. Each time I went in, they only had one or two kinds of tamales available and none were vegetarian friendly. Shouldn’t tamaleros keep queso de rajas in stock? Liliana’s always has them available. La Casa de Tamal’s problem seems to be one of production and lack of experience – they would sell more food, if they had the food to offer.
    It’s unfair for them to blame street vendors (who are offering a greater selection of food choices), for their own shortcomings.

  36. I do a lot of night photography around Boyle Heights and East L. A. and had snapped a few pictures of the food vendors outside Bank of America at Brooklyn and Breed, never had any pedo. One early evening after a successful photo session over the L. A. river I decided to celebrate with some sugar free candy, I’m a diabetic. En la madre, the closest place where I could find sugar place would on Atlantic in Monterey Park. I remembered the boticas at Soto and Brooklyn. Just drove north from Olympic. Parking was a pedo, circled around the block and found a spot in front of a freaky tattoo parlor and a brujeria shop. Walked west past a check cashing place, a pawn shop, and a two barber shops. First went inside Farmacia Ramirez, it felt like Mexico, un chingo de bolsitas de remedios, useless vitamins and tonics, some sal de uvas Picot, Vicks vaporrub, veladoras, ventosas y madre y media. I forgot, gansitos y bolsas de chingaders Barcel. I asked the pharmacist for sugar free candy, el pendejo nunca habia oido de eso. He had to ask someone else. They pointed to to some Mexican sore throat lozenges. So much for diabetic care. Left the place and crossed the street to the other pharmacy where la Farmacia Ramirez used to be. El mismo pedo, pero todabia mas brujerias y chingaderas. Stepped outside and some religious group was holding a meeting outside Payless shoes, el King Taco’s sign brightened the street as it went around and around. Diabetes and a lot of woodworking that I used to do damaged my sense of smell, at times I can smell los tacos del pastor. I couldn’t this time, what I could smell were the frying burger patties from Georgies and the frying corn dough from the street vendors. I count carbs, that’s a good way to keep my blood sugar level. I east lots of frijoles, they are low in carbohydrates, rich in protein, no cholesterol and taste real good. Tortillas on the other hand are delicious but pretty bad for diabetics, they are high in sugar and carbs. I know that this is sacrilegious, corn is basically empty calories, most of today’s sweet stuff has lots and lots of corn syrup. There is a movement in Mexico to add soy beans to tortillas to increase their nutritional value, add proteins. I take my camera with me every where, my last hope was la Big Buy market. Headed down the street. El Georgie’s burgers were either being good ecologists by not turning the big sign or are so cheap that they did not repair it after it broke down. The street was full of gente, groups of females hugging each other while walking, estilo el sur. The sidewalk resembled a swap meet, people selling all kinds of made in China chingaderas. Noticed that most of the stores were ran by Asians, and lacked imagination. The B of A’s teller machine lights brightened the whole corner, a Hippie looking mexicano sold jewelry and head shop items from a blanket on the floor. An indigenous looking woman leaned on a utility pole as she fanned a Mexican barbeque pit sitting on a stoled supermarket shopping basket. “Guinis” wrapped in bacon and rings of cebolla slowly cooked. A gorgeous woman peddled La Atalaya right at the corner. The idea of romancing her and turning her into an Anarchist and a Socialist crossed my mind. To my right the food vendors had already set up on Breed, it wasn’t as bright as Brooklyn. I own a couple of cameras. One of them is one step down from the very best. I like natural shots. What I did was to set the the zoom lens to its widest setting, set the camera to autofocus, and let the camera choose its own ISO speed. The air felt thick, the vibe wasn’t right. I began to talk to the vendors and ask if i could take their picture some agreed, some didn’t. I took pictures as I walked. There were maybe three vendors against B of A’s wall, some of them set up on the banks parking lot, and several on parking spaces inside the city run parking lot. A few were scattered near the sidewalk curb. I took some shots from faraway and from across the street. Overheard some talk about how unfair the supermarket was for not letting them set up on the other side of the street. The food smelled delicious, but is poison for me, and for our gente in general. As I walked down back to the corner, a vendor was preparing a couple of churro orders for some overweight chola looking women. The light was right and was able to capture the man cutting the churros to smaller sizes, then rolling them on a tray of sugar and cinnamon. As I did that an older woman told me in an angry and loud voice to stop taking pictures. She spoke in Spanish, and told me that they didn’t want to be photographed, that they were on to me and saw the camera blink as I took pictures. Then she proceeded to tell me that it was against the law to take pictures. I found that ironic. After 9/11 people became real picky about pictures, some government pictures have banned picture taking completely, downtown L. A. is a minefield with overzealous rent a cops protecting buildings from being photographed. I know that people on the streets,public places, and public parks can be photographed. Cops play hard to get, but it has been fought all the way to the supreme court, it is okay to take their picture. The churro vendor joined the legal debate as he handed me the order of churros that I planned to give to a homeless person I’d find along the way. I was raised the old fashion way, I respect my elders, did not feel like arguing. The light changed and I crossed the street and went inside la Big Buy. I walked up and down the aisles looking for my sugar free candy, noticed that I was being followed by a group led by that woman. I bought some non fat milk and fruit. As I stood in line a very nice young man complemented me on my camera and asked me who or what I was shooting for. He was being nice and civil, so I told him that I was a photo blogger who documented East L. A. life. He asked me if I had a website, I gave him one of my addresses, he took out a Blackberry and dialed the address. He turned around and explained to the woman what I told him, she was fuming and did not listen. I picked up some sugarless gum, paid and left the market. The churro vendor had set up shop right outside the door, next to a sign that read no vending. I crossed the street and was still being followed by the angry woman and her posy. B of A and Georgies were well lit, the problem was going to be the store fronts between the alley and the corner. The city has neglected tree maintenance, the trees are over grown ant the sidewalk is pretty dark. That was a good place to get jumped. I could swing the camera and use it as a weapon but it would mean damaging. Made it safely to Soto, it was well lit. The light changed and the group seemed larger. The pharmacy and the bus stop were well lit, the check cashing place and pawn shop were well lit. The witchcraft shop and the tattoo parlor were dark and the over grown trees created a read dark area, perfect to get jumped. I went Roosevelt in the early seventies, we had to walk through many hostile territories. I grew up on Eastside Boulevard, there was a major gang in every corner, somehow I survived without ever getting in a fight, now I was being faced with by being jumped by unlicensed street food vendors. My crew cab truck was a few steps away, clicked the remote door lock, it unlocked and all lights went on, opened the read passenger door, placed my camera safely on the seat and grabbed my trusty tire iron. Turned around and faced my chasers, their demeanor changed and they kept on talking as if nothing.

    My mother and my sister like to embellish the truth, they just like to make it more exciting. They claimed that ICE did a major sweep in that area the following day, and everyone had been deported. I did web searched looking for corroboration, found nothing. The only thing I know is that they are not there anymore.

  37. “The idea of romancing her and turning her into an Anarchist and a Socialist crossed my mind.” So that she can form a government for the people by the people, only to have her anarchist side rebel against it?

    On the discussion of vendors, i was at Olvera st yesterday and there is usually a small group of food vendors, 3-4, during the weekends, if any. There is usually a game of cat and mouse between security and the vendors. Vendors are not allowed on Olvera st, as they will compete with Olvera St merchants. So the vendors usually stay next to the church or on the spring st side of the church.
    So yesterday i walk from olvera st to the church looking to get lunch, and sure enough i find vendors on the Spring st side of the church. However, there are many more than before. Probably 10 various food vendors, a lot more than usual. The sight of all these vendors struck me, most sold similiar food hot dogs wrapped in bacon, quesadillas,huaraches and such. Thought my first thought was that of a kid in a candy store. After getting my hotdog, i thought to myself. This is probably going to attract unwanted attention. A handful of vendors can probably fly under the radar. However, too many vendors does distract from the merchants at Olvera St who are also struggling to meet the new rents handed down by the city. One can argue that the vendors sell different food than the Olvera St merchants, but disposable income is short nowadays so if your buying quesadillas at the vendors then your probably not going to buy tacos at Olvera st. I could buy quesadillas and tacos and support both but then i would be broke.
    So I left that day with my hotdog, but wondering what will happen to the vendors and what will happen to the businesses. And what impact does spending my money at either location have.

  38. There should be more cold fruit vendors like the ones they have in downtown (5th & Broadway).
    The flavor rush of ice cold pineapple slices sprinkled with pico de gallo is intoxicating.

  39. The fate of Olvera street doesn’t hinge on your hot dog, OTS, so relax and enjoy your food. The entire country is in the aftermath of an economic crash that happened 2 years ago. Supporting Olvera merchants or sidewalk vendors is neither here nor there, because both are being screwed by bigger and more powerful people than you or I, and you or I aren’t going to stop it with our junk food spending power.

  40. I dont know RT, that was one tasty hotdog. If one hotdog could change the world, it would be that hotdog.

  41. In NYC (and London and Paris), street food vendors have to have licenses and health certificates, etc. Why should Los Angeles be any different?

    Here’s some information from the NYT:

    “Believe it or not, carts selling cooked food must have sinks and plumbing, with hot and cold running water for hand washing. ”

    When did you ever see that kind of cart in BH?

    Here’s a NYC organization for street vendors:

  42. Belinda Gomez,
    You go-girl, finally, somebody speaks for the rest of us. Why should those street vendors get away without proper inspection and licensing?
    Mark Garcia

  43. I won’t buy tamales from strangers for health reasons. Who knows if they have washed their hands. Knowing human nature it is always risky to buy anything homemade and sold on the street by whoever.
    I’m a stickler for cleanliness.
    But have no idea if they are.
    Who knows if they recently used the toilet then handled all the ingredients without washing their hands.
    Feces could be in the food. Or they could have engaged in sex than without washing their hands made the tamales.
    No one should buy tamales from anyone if they are strangers.
    You may purchase a bacteria or germ or virus that could kill you or a loved done.
    Buyer beware!

  44. I heard feces tamales are an aphrodisiac ;). But don’t take my advice I only have plenty of relatives that work at five star restaurants that have filthy sex, use the toilet, and never watch their hands. 🙂

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