Chicken Corner remains hopeful that the informal swap meet at Echo Park Lake on Sundays can be relocated in a way that minimizes economic impact on vendors. But I also appreciate the thoughts of readers who argue for a more tolerant attitude toward the people who pitch blankets and sell dolls, computer screens, whatnots, and grilled meats at the park.
One reader, Benjamin Cole, who lives in Elysian Valley, sent me the following today:
I liked your thoughtful posts on Echo Park and markets. As a frequent visitor to Thailand (my wife lives there), I often see informal markets and street vendors (especially push-cart food vendors). I think such activities are necessary to allow people without capital to start a business. Who has the money to open up a restaurant in Los Angeles? I think it would take at least $200k, and of course much more in most cases. In Thailand, any good cook with a push cart and a large stainless steel pot can cook up soup and start selling. I think a $10 license for street vending is the way to go. Get ready for lots of really good cheap food and lower-cost goods. We will sacrifice some sanity on the sidewalks. But I think we will gain eyes and ears on the street, and more economic opportunity. More color.
One thing to note about Benjamin's note is that he advocates a license -- part of the issue with the swap meet is that the vendors don't pay fees other vendors are required to pay. More important, he is not advocating that the selling be done in the park. Chicken Corner is all in favor of allowing underfunded entrepreneurs to set up "shop." The question is where.
In any case, this coming week is the scaled back Lotus Festival. The unlicensed swap meet vendors will probably be pushed out, for this week at least.
Regarding the Lotus Fest, my favorite event, the Dragon Boat Races, has been canceled for this year. It's turning into the Festival of Subtractions -- take away the lotus, take away the dragon boat races, take away three quarters of previous budgets...leaves an odd sum.