© Aurelia Ventura
Street vendors working near MacArthur Park.

Caridad Vázquez has been a street food vendor for over 15 years in Boyle Heights but since the coronavirus outbreak, she has been unable to work.

He says he was hoping to sell soon, after hearing that Los Angeles County was reopening.

However, he was informed that he must obtain a county health permit. Failure to do so will result in you being fined up to $ 1,000 each day for violating the rules and risking a minor crime on your record.

The fine is not new, but is applied more widely during the pandemic to ensure that food vendors meet food handling, preparation, and delivery guidelines.

Food vendors in Los Angeles County need up to four permits. A commercial license and seller’s permit are included, both free. But they also need a street vending permit that costs almost $ 300 and a health permit, which can cost up to $ 900.

The problem with the latter certificate is that it is impossible for street vendors – like Vázquez – to obtain it « because their station does not qualify, » said Maribel García, economic development associate at Inclusive Action, a nonprofit organization that works with needy communities. .

According to the California Retail Food Code, county officials said they cannot approve carts or tables for the sale of food; Nor do those who sell whole fruit in the back of their trucks qualify.

« Current state law does not allow the sale of food on the curb unless it is from a permitted mobile food facility [por ejemplo, un carrito de alimentos que cumpla con todos los requisitos]According to a statement from the Environmental Health Division of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

« An installed table does not meet the requirements of a food facility and, as such, cannot obtain a health permit, » he adds.

© Provided by La Opinion
The sale of fruits in carts is not authorized. / photo: archive.

Vazquez said this strict rule could put her out of a job, as she sells food in a cart very similar to a small table on the sidewalk.

He added that an authorized cart cannot be purchased, which can range from several thousand dollars.

And, that to acquire it, would have to find a commissioner to leave it for the night. That could vary by around $ 500 a month.

Authorities alert

County officials said they have been releasing the information through social media to inform vendors of the fines and safety regulations.

« In addition, county employees are conducting educational outreach activities in the unincorporated areas of the county to notify food vendors and provide information on resources that may be available to them, » the division said by mail.

electronic.

« The Department of Public Works is also publishing the attached signage in unincorporated areas of the county to notify vendors and the public. »

The $ 1,000 fine is described in state and county codes related to misdemeanor infractions. If the seller is quoted, it may be subject to greater application of the

law.

The Environmental Health Division stated that food vendors who have a Public Health permit can operate as long as they comply with social distancing protocols.

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