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Street vendors’ lawsuit against Atlanta could impact food trucks

IMG_1291The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta this morning on behalf of clients Larry Miller and Stanley Hambrick for what they believe is the city’s violation of Miller and Hambrick’s constitutional right to earn a living by handing over all public vending to a single company. Ernie Suggs of the AJC reported on the story following this morning’s press conference announcing the suit.

In 2009, the city of Atlanta awarded a contract for the management of all public property vending to General Growth, a multi-billion dollar shopping mall operator that owns Cumberland, Perimeter, and North Point malls to name a few. The contract allows GGP to build kiosks specifically designated for street vending on public property, which is then leased out to potential vendors. The lawsuit claims that this is not only a monopoly, but that it interferes with entrepreneurs’ ability to conduct successful businesses.

Though the vendors in this particular lawsuit operate stands primarily selling Braves merchandise outside of Turner field, the Institute for Justice sees further implications that could positively affect our blossoming food truck and street food vendor industry.

Rob Frommer, the lead attorney in the case, explained to me in a phone interview that “The purpose of the lawsuit is to vindicate a part of the Georgia constitution that states that everyone has the right to earn an honest living. This applies to vendors selling Braves merchandise and food vendors as well.”

Frommer believes that a win in this case will hopefully make Atlanta reevaluate how it treats its street vendors.

“The food trucks in Atlanta face difficulty in the confusion over the laws that regulate the industry. It isn’t clear to vendors – or the city for that matter – if operation on private or public property would violate the contract with GGP,” says Frommer, “A win here should get clarification on the law, so it should help everybody.”

This lawsuit against Atlanta is part of a larger nationwide effort put forth by the Institute for Justice to change laws restricting the ability of street vendors to operate in major cities. Atlanta has some of the strictest anti-street vending laws in the country. For example, persons vending on private property aren’t technically allowed to operate within 1,500 feet of a permanent business selling the same or similar products. This 1,500 foot restriction is the largest of its kind in the nation.

What do you think? Could this be a step in the right direction for the food truck industry in Atlanta?

We will update this story as it progresses. For now, please see the video below provided by the Institute for Justice regarding the lawsuit and the state of street vending in Atlanta.

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

27 comments Add your comment

donkey200

July 28th, 2011
4:03 pm

Atlanta city government stinks. They’re all a bunch of thieves expecting kick-backs.

I'm Hungry

July 28th, 2011
4:12 pm

I think food trucks are a very cool idea…especially because I’m Hungry…It gives a small business a chance to exist…

Billie

July 28th, 2011
4:35 pm

What have you done with John Kessler???????????????????????

Iconoclast

July 28th, 2011
4:53 pm

Do the math: (CoA + GGP) =/> (Bill Campbell + Munson Steed). Nuff said?

Blog Administrator

July 28th, 2011
5:22 pm

@Billie: Have no fear, John K. will be returning soon.
There is absolutely no truth to any rumor that he’s run away to operate a food truck.

pay down

July 28th, 2011
5:58 pm

More crooked rules from the corrupt city of atlanta government, to get more money to the braves for outrageous stuff inside the stadium. To protest these rules, I will not buy anything inside the stadium. Cut the prices, let entrepreneurs outside make money.

WhatA Crock

July 28th, 2011
7:46 pm

This is just another way to make it harder for the smaller businessman to make a living and probably someone is getting paid cash under the table to do this.

[...] by Jon Watson | AccessAtlanta.com [...]

Innocent Bystander

July 28th, 2011
9:17 pm

Not surprised. Atlanta gov’t has never been run the right way. Remember, this is the same local gov’t that ran APS so poorly.

Jason

July 28th, 2011
9:23 pm

I should be able to sell anything I want, anywhere I want, even on property that I don’t own. That’s the American way! Find someone else’s property and use it for your own money making scheme. When these True American Vendors win against the evil government, I’m going to join them. Get ready for the best oil change place on EARTH! The two right lanes of the downtown connector are now mine. The government nor anyone else can oppose me, I am a small business man and entitled to take ANY property I want for any purpose I want and NO ONE is able to tell me no. My oil change will be super convenient. All you do is pull your car into one of the two right most lanes, turn off your car and someone will be right with you. Oh, and if my employees happen to destroy your car in the process, don’t come crying to me or anyone else. I’m a small independent businessman and should not be held accountable to ANYONE. If you do not agree, you are a socialist American hater and should go back to Cuba or China or where ever it is that all you commie business haters come from. My country, MY RULES! Anyone who disagrees, too bad! Don’t get me mad or I’ll sue ya!

Tax Them All

July 28th, 2011
10:01 pm

Tax and make all of them buy permits!!! Most of them panhandle and bother the visitors with their copycat and inferior merchandise. They are nothing but a blight on the city and should all be run out of business. Jason you are an absolute idiiot and should be the first one arrested and thrown in a dark cell with the key thrown away.

TT

July 28th, 2011
10:12 pm

Tax Them All .. You are an idiot. What is the Gov’t in ATL thinking. Did they forget unemployment is over 10 % in GA. Targeting Food Vendors now this . I am glad I have left. GA gov’t wants their hand in everything. They are just targeting small entrepreneurs who they know cannot afford these fees. Somebody in the GA upper gov’t is getting kickbacks from this I can assure it. I smell a rat mile away on this one.

Innocent Bystander

July 28th, 2011
10:14 pm

Jason- These are public areas where vendors are allowed to conduct business. Or rather, GGP is allowed to since they bought the monopoly rights.

Also, what’s wrong with having the freedom to sue who you wish if you have a case to do so? I would much rather live in a free society than get screwed over by big business, big gov’t, or anyone else who decides they can boss me around with no repercussion.

If you shy away from freedom, there are plenty of oppressive countries who would love your allegiance.

TT

July 28th, 2011
10:18 pm

Then next the small street entrepreneur vendors will have to pay the nazi meter of ATL(aka ParkATL) a fee to park those kiosks there in addition to GA state fees. Just wait I see that one coming. They are trying to run more small entrepreneurs out of business.

Ed

July 28th, 2011
10:40 pm

Is city government corrupt? Duh! Everything the city of Atlanta gov’t touches gets corrupted.

Tax Them All

July 29th, 2011
8:25 am

They mostly sell counterfeit merchandise, hassle visitors – not much better than pan handlers – and are in common just plain eye sores on the city streets…..they should have to fit and comply with a standardized business routine and if they don’t run them out of town. They contribute nothing!

southern hope

July 29th, 2011
11:01 am

this is a toughie…and I realize that the law can’t be applied to some folks & not others. I attend a lot of Braves games and I appreciate the affordable items sold outside of the stadium. On the other hand, I’ve heard visitors say that they find those tents shabby and panhandle-like…and i can see that too.

I wasn’t here during the Olympics (living on the west coast them) but i still hear tales of the tables set up by cheap merchants outside of the main events.

VDog

July 29th, 2011
11:30 am

Small business owners just don’t have the funds necessary to grease the palms of our corrupt city management. (The new Mayor excluded… so far.) It’s their own fault for being undercapitalized and trying to create a small, often start-up, business. Unemployment be damned!

VDog

July 29th, 2011
11:38 am

Uh,” Tax them All”, I think Jason’s comments were tongue in cheek. Are you that naive? Also, many street Food Vendors often create a great alternative for great food for those on the run. Travel around the world and you will find “Street Food” to be some of the best. Do not lump them all together, most do not deserve your disdain, there will always be a few bad apples.

RK

July 29th, 2011
11:46 am

Woodruff Park and downtown do look much, much better with these

[...] Atlanta this summer. In some days the American state may default on debt – everyday it’s in the news whether they will find a solution or not. And these are the news we have here in Germany, because we know that this will affect the global markets. Nevertheless in 2008 the US experienced a crisis – and many people lost their jobs. And some people try to make a living, and some cities start programs to offer a better access to economic possibilities. Let’s say, something is in the air. And than I read this, read carefully: In 2009, the city of Atlanta awarded a contract for the management of all [!! my remarks] public property vending to G***** G*****, a multi-billion dollar shopping mall operator that owns C****, P*****, and N**** P**** malls to name a few. [read the full article here] [...]

Tax Them All

July 29th, 2011
1:00 pm

VDog – either they comply or they get shut down – it is that simple,

[...] Read More [...]

Darin

July 30th, 2011
10:48 am

I hope that whatever happens with this case that the kiosks stay downtown. I live downtown and I remember what it was like with all the sloppy makeshift stands everywhere — it looked really unappealing and shabby. It’s good to have these things regulated when they’re on public property.

Do what you want when you make an actual investment in a privately-owned store space. Make it as shabby as you want. But when you’re operating on a publicly-owned sidewalk, I think it’s only fair to expect some regulation.

Billy

July 30th, 2011
4:45 pm

Thanks for the Raku review. I really enjoyed my visit.

Southwest ATL

July 31st, 2011
7:28 pm

If you sell on the street, have appropriate items for where you are (i.e. Braves items at a Braves game), and can setup a shop that looks like a shop and not a flea market, setup shop, and sell away. But if you setup a folding table, with signs that fall down and aren’t picked up, then you’re adding to the mess of many already messy neighborhoods that need help, not more trash. It’s all how you it’s presented. Raise the bar, people, stop lowering it!

Tech2005

July 31st, 2011
9:01 pm

General Growth is bankrupt. Way to choose a vending partner, COA.