LOS ANGELES, CA – Roughly 50,000 vendors roam the streets of Los Angeles piloting pushcarts of bacon-wrapped hot dogs, spiced fruit, flowers, T-shirts and trinkets, or so city officials estimate. No one really knows how many there are, because they’re all technically illegal.

Los Angeles is the only one of the 10 largest U.S. cities that doesn’t permit street vendors, outlawed since the mid-20th century as car culture choked once-pedestrian-friendly shopping districts.

Under a measure now before the City Council, street vending would be permitted again in the second-most populous American city. The move recognizes the reality that thousands of people, many immigrants, are selling food, clothing and even pet rabbits everywhere from neighborhood sidewalks to touristy Hollywood Boulevard.

“The police are always bothering us,” Caridad Vasquez, 54, from the Mexican state of Colima, said in Spanish as she sold quesadillas near the Miracle Mile section of Wilshire Boulevard. “They never give us a ticket. They just say we cannot sell here so we have to move.”

Regulations proposed by City Council members Jose Huizar and Curren Price, who represent parts of downtown Los Angeles and low-income neighborhoods to the east and south, would allow Vasquez and others to sell legally.

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