Tag Archive for: swap meet

Swap meet vendors back in 2010

Before Echo Park Lake was drained, before the gates went up around its perimeters, the lake wasn’t just a hub for families and picnickers to enjoy. Sunday afternoons were often host to street vendors on the grass alongside the sidewalk, wrapping around the entire northern section of the park. While many enjoyed shopping for a variety of new and used items, others found the vendors to be invasive, taking over valued park space and leaving loads of litter behind.

The mass of street vendors wasn’t just an issue at Echo Park Lake, it’s all over the city. Today, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors is reviewing a motion to strengthen the crack-down on street vendors, which are, after all, illegal. But it’s also more than just about the legality – it’s an enforcement issue, a race and class issue, a tax issue, and a business issue. At Echo Park Lake, it also became a safety/crime issue as witnesses have reported seeing armed men portioning out and selling spaces for $20-40 the night before.

The proposal wouldn’t affect the occasional yard sale, but specifically addresses illegal street vendors including those bacon-wrapped hot dogs and pushcarts.

With Echo Park Lake re-opening in mid-May, the question is: Will the street vendors return, and will the city crack down on the activity if they do?

Related articles:

  • “Police try a new strategy to sweep out Echo Park Lake swap meet vendors.” August 8, 2010, The Eastsider LA
  • “Vendors at Echo Park Lake get the boot.” August 1, 2010, Echo Park Now
  • “The many facets of the Echo Park Lake swap meet.: March 24, 1010, Echo Park Now

Walking around Echo Park Lake yesterday was an experience residents haven’t seen in quite a while on a Sunday: green grass occupied by picnickers, families, and a few necking lovebirds. The northern end of Echo Park Lake was really, really quiet with the exception of the occasional jingle from an ice cream cart bell. It seems that word got around after last week’s “crack-down” at Echo Park Lake, during which officers cited vendors for soliciting on public property. Even though just a few citations were issued, it certainly had an effect.

Residents and The Eastsider LA reported yesterday that a few Rampart Division patrol cars and officers had posted up throughout the day on various corners of the Lake. They were ready to enforce not a soliciting on public property violation like last week (which it seems may not be entirely and legally applicable), but for those who didn’t have resale licenses. Deputy City Attorney Andre Quintero seemed a bit surprised at Thursday night’s Echo Park Improvement Association meeting when told about the previous Sunday’s activity. Having worked on this issues for about a year now (in relation to the city law that was overturned when Venice Beach activists sued for free speech violations), he wasn’t sure whether or not a soliciting on public property violation applied to the Echo Park Lake vendors.

Those who have been actively working on clearing the vendors from Echo Park Lake on Sunday are relieved to “have the park back.” Other residents might have mixed feelings about losing the vendors from the Lake because, really, who cares if someone’s trying to make a buck in this economy? But arguments seem to always come down to one thing: It’s a lake, it’s a park, and that’s what it should be used for.

I recommend taking a gander through the article published yesterday by The Eastsider LA, and decide for yourself whether or not it’s a good thing to cite vendors at the lake.

Related articles:

  • “Police try a new strategy to sweep out Echo Park Lake swap meet vendors.” August 8, 2010, The Eastsider LA
  • “Vendors at Echo Park Lake get the boot.” August 1, 2010, Echo Park Now
  • “The many facets of the Echo Park Lake swap meet.” March 24, 1010, Echo Park Now

Picnickers and swap meet vendors

The Eastsider LA is reporting that Rampart Division police officers showed up at the Echo Park Lake swap meet today to “warn and educate the vendors about the law,” Sgt. Joel Miller told the Eastsider. Several vendors were also cited for “soliciting on city property.”

We have written extensively about this issue before, covering the legality vs. illegality issues and more. More recently, the main concern revolves around a small number of individuals who are reportedly selling spaces on the grass to potential vendors. One resident told everyone at the EPIA Town Hall meeting in July about a man offering those spaces for $20 and $40, and was apparently carrying a machete.

Another resident commented on the Eastsider LA article today about their experience, writing: “Well I tried to walk home several Saturdays late in the evening and when I saw the ropes, strings, plastic bags, hangars, yellow tape, and as recently as July 31 brown mailing tape marking the spots. When I approached the obvious markings I was approached by a tall man who asked me ‘Tienes en Lugar?'”

Perhaps these reports from residents, which surprised the Rampart Division officer who was present at the meeting, are the reason why police showed up earlier today to disperse the crowd.

A new round of discussions about the swap meet at the Echo Park lake is taking place on the Echo Elysian Neighborhood Council Forum, starting with a resident who drove by the Park at nearly 2:00 am last Saturday night and noticed the “whole north end of the park was already ringed with blankets.” After some discussion, Alejandra Marroquin from Garcetti’s office chimed in with an update, writing:

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Picnickers and swap meet vendors

In the past month or so, we have received letters from residents commenting on the weekend swap meet surrounding the Echo Park Lake. Other community blogs have highlighted similar complaints and comments about the legality (or illegality) of the swap meets. We thought we’d take this opportunity to break down some of the issues that have come up in letters to us, other news blogs, and recent community meetings.


  • From fellow Echo Park resident Marysa: “ I just got back from running in Echo Park for the first time in a month and realized why I have been unable to park anywhere near my Logan St. apartment on Sundays. The half-baked swap meet that was on Park has now exploded down to the light house on Echo Park.  I can dig that people are trying to make a buck but I think it’s ruining the peace of being there. All jokes about the park aside, there is a large number of people I see on a regular basis who use the park for healthy purposes. It’s a shame to see our park get taken over by commerce.” Parking around the lake has been a frustration, especially as residents like Marysa have to fight crowds to park on her own street in front of her own house.  One suggestion has been to issue Parking Permits to people that live around the lake. However, this process can take a couple of years and a LOT of community organization (efforts the past few years surrounding Dodger Stadium are a good example of this).


  • In addition to the parking problems, some residents feel the Park is being overcrowded because the swap meet has expanded so far along the park edges. It is indeed a little difficult to navigate through the north-east portion of the lake. Just last weekend vendors were stretched along nearly the entire north side and along the east side just past the boat house. As Andrew Garsten, EPIA Chair of the Neighborhood Issues Committee, wrote in the latest EPIAn Ways newsletter, the swap meet is “displacing any possibility of using huge sections of the park for normal use like a quiet stroll or a picnic.” For residents like Mr. Garsten, the issue is really about people who live in Echo Park who don’t have the luxury of a back yard and who use the Lake because they need the park.

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