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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Street vendors and City Hall disagree over what judge's ruling actually means for current vending program

Atlanta vendors protest outside City Hall

Vendors and city officials have, perhaps unsurprisingly, interpreted a Fulton County judge's recent remarks about the Atlanta's vending ordinances to mean two different things.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua - who yesterday commented on her December 2012 ruling that tossed out the Atlanta's controversial contract which required vendors to lease private kiosks - reminded all parties involved that the city's 2008 vending laws are no longer valid.

But what does that mean moving forward? No one's really sure at the moment which laws, if any, are currently in effect. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Katie Leslie last night nicely summarized how both sides have interpreted LaGrua's latest comments:

Attorneys for Atlanta's public street vendors and city officials agree that Fulton County Superior Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua's December 2012 ruling struck down the city's agreement with Chicago-based General Growth Properties. But they disagree whether her ruling also dismantled the city's repeal of its 2003 vending program.

The vendors' attorneys say her clarification means the city must revert to its former law, which allowed vendors to pay a nominal fee in order to vend on public property.

City officials say it's not so simple and that her ruling effectively tossed out the entire vending program. They say a new ordinance must be passed before vendors are allowed to sell their wares on public property.

Reed spokeswoman Anne Torres told CL on Monday that the city plans to establish a new vending program that's "appropriate for a city of our size and stature" sometime later this year. But that can't come soon enough, vendors say, considering that some have remained sidelined from their work since the Final Four took place in late March.

"It's affected households, children, and also disabled veterans, [the handicapped], and blind people who vend every day in the city," Atlanta Vendors Association President Larry Miller said outside City Hall on Monday following a protest.

Until the new program helps outline the rules for street salespeople, however, it's likely that the conflicting interpretations - and overall confusion - will continue.

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