trying to crack down on street vendors
WESTLAKE VILLAGE - Saying they do not fit in with the city's upscale image, officials are trying to crack down on street vendors who sell everything from hot dogs to car washes.
"We all have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of street vendors, people selling things on carts, hot dog stands on the road, the mobile car wash," said Westlake Village Councilman James Emmons. "It has to do with the economy. There are a lot of people out of work. The situation is only going to get worse."
The vendors can be a nuisance, officials said, and are not in keeping with Westlake Village's image.
"With hot dog vendors on public streets, that's not the ambiance that the city of Westlake Village wants," said Councilman Doug Yarrow.
Westlake Village officials ordered staff to research existing city ordinances to see what control their city has over street vendors.
"We need to find out if we should expand what is there, use what we already have or whether we should make our own ordinance," said Hamid Arshadi, city planner.
The move follows the lead of Thousand Oaks, which earlier this month ordered staff to come up with a draft ordinance that would limit the hours and location where street vendors can operate. The ordinance would also require insurance coverage.
Currently, under the Los Angeles County code that was adopted by Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, street vendors are prohibited from doing business on local streets, sidewalks, parkways and roadways, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The penalty for vending on streets and sidewalks was increased in January to a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to six months.
But while the penalties have increase, Westlake Village officials said the ordinance has not been enforced that much.
"We are a city of standards," Emmons said. "We generally have higher standards than the county. We can lose that if we don't provide some regulation in this area."
Area street vendors said they are only trying to make a living and are willing to comply with city regulations if they are allowed to be on the streets.
"As long as everybody complies with getting permits, health licenses and inspections, it's a good business - it's convenient to people and it provides food at a reasonable cost," said Joanne Schmidt, a hot dog vendor in the Conejo Valley.
Schmidt said she was not aware Los Angeles County code banned street vendors.
Los Angeles County sheriff's investigator Make Kart, who cites street vendors, said enforcement can be stepped up if the city requests it.
Reprinted from The Thousand Oaks Daily News, July 14, 1992