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?