In this immigrant-rich city, the “official hot dog of Los Angeles” is almost exclusively found at sidewalk carts. The bacon-wrapped concoction, known for smelling much better than it tastes, is a local icon that's just as Mexican as it is American

Which is to say it is indeed very L.A.

And like a lot of things in L.A., including the guy who washes your dishes at your favorite restaurant and U-turns on almost any stretch of boulevard, it's illegal. While New York, San Francisco, Houston, Portland and Chicago allow sidewalk vending, America's most-dense metropolis, known for its fruit stands and elote carts, does not.

That could finally change.


On Tuesday the city's Economic Development Committee will consider a proposal to legalize at least some of the estimated 50,000 sidewalk vendors in town.

Approval could put the matter before the City Council sooner rather than later.

As it stands the “framework” for street-side entrepreneurs would have them take a mandatory course on the rules of the game, apply and pay for various permits, and obtain county approvals for food handling, if that's what they do.

The city estimates that about 1 in 5 of those 50,000 vendors deals in food. The nonprofit East L.A. Community Corporation describes those purveyors of eats this way:

An estimated 10,000 of them roam the City's streets, bringing fresh fruit to neighborhoods with few supermarkets, providing access to affordable food for families, and delighting children with paletas and other frozen treats. 

Credit: Gregory Bojorquez for L.A. Weekly

Credit: Gregory Bojorquez for L.A. Weekly

The organization, along with the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign, plans an 11 a.m. rally ahead of the 1 p.m. Economic Development Committee meeting Tuesday. The East L.A. Community Corporation argues:

L.A. is a hotbed of interesting street food, but it is also the only one of the nation's 10 largest cities to completely outlaw sidewalk vending. At a time when the City is finally trying to develop a more vibrant urban core and make its streets friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists, the ban needs to be lifted. Until that happens, vendors continue to face the risk being arrested, having their equipment confiscated, and serving jail time.  

If you're a street-food aficionado, maybe you should show your support. Those hot dogs don't make themselves.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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