Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond introduced legislation Monday to temporarily put public street vendors back to work.
His ordinance is designed to allow the vendors to operate while they wait for the city to institute a new public street vending program. Officials from Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration have said that will be completed later this year.
Under the temporary program, vendors would be allowed to sell goods near Turner Field and out of city-owned kiosks at a handful of other locations. However, the bill would not allow vendors to return to Five Points, a once-popular downtown location for vendors that prompted complaints of disorderliness.
“I think it’s time to do something to accommodate these folks who want to work,” Bond said in a recent interview.
Larry Miller, president of the Atlanta Vendors Association, said the legislation “is a start.”
Bond’s proposal comes amid a long battle between vendors and Reed’s administration over the right to operate on public streets. The legal conflict began when former Mayor Shirley Franklin, in an effort to clean up the haphazard look of street vending, turned over the program to a private company. Miller and vendor Stanley Hambrick challenged that move and won last December when a Fulton County Superior Court judge struck down the agreement with Chicago-based General Growth Properties.
City officials say that decision effectively tossed out the entire public street vending program, though attorneys for the vendors say the ruling means the city must revert to its former law.
Bond’s ordinance now heads to the city’s public safety committee, which will consider the legislation in coming weeks. If approved, it will return to the full council for consideration in August. Until then, vendors can sell on private property with appropriate licensing.