NSVI- Atlanta Vending
|On April 6th, vendors held a protest to bring attention to their plight.|
Atlanta Takes “Scorched Earth” Policy Against Local Vendors
City Continues Repression of Entrepreneurs, Now Seeks to Ban Them from Public Land
City Falsely Claims its Crackdown on Vendors Is Required by December Court Ruling Striking Down Vending Monopoly
After vendors scored a major state court victory in December, which threw out the city’s sweetheart deal that forced all vendors to operate with one out-of-state company the city granted a monopoly over street vending, the city’s new response is to put all vendors who operate in public spaces out of business. This barred them from selling near Turner Field before Major League Baseball Opening Day and the Georgia Dome, which hosted the NCAA’s Final Four basketball tournament—key opportunities for street vendors to sell their wares.
Bizarrely, the city claims that its crackdown is required by the court’s order in December striking down the city-granted monopoly. But nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing in that order in any way prevents street vending or requires the city to stop it in any way. Indeed, contrary to the city’s claim that the order prevents them from renewing vendors’ licenses, the court’s order specifically states (with emphasis added in italics:) “This ruling is limited to any decision made pursuant to [the city council ordinance and resolution creating the monopoly and the contract with the private company] and the city may continue its other licensing and regulatory operations.”
Court Gives a Christmas Victory to Atlanta Street Vendors
Court Strikes Down Government-Granted Vending Monopoly
Today, Christmas came early for Atlanta vendors Larry Miller and Stanley Hambrick when Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua of the Fulton County Superior Court struck down the city’s Public Vending Management Program. In 2011, the two longtime street vendors who operate outside of Turner Field filed suit to challenge Atlanta’s vending regulations that had already put numerous vendors out of business.
In 2009, Atlanta handed over all vending on public property to General Growth Properties—the first time any American city has set up such a centralized scheme for vending. As the monopolist has moved into areas of the city, Atlanta officials have revoked the existing vendors’ permits and forced them to leave. The first phase of the program eliminated . . .
IJ Challenges Atlanta, Georgia’s Unconstitutional Vending Monopoly in
Miller v. City of Atlanta
IJ clients Stanley Hambrick (above) and Larry Miller (below) are two well-known vendors outside Turner Field.
Larry Miller and Stanley Hambrick own two well-known vending businesses outside the Atlanta Braves stadium. Their businesses create jobs, offer inexpensive snacks and souvenirs to visitors, and make the sidewalks safer by keeping an eye out for fans who need help. But two years ago, Atlanta handed over all public-property vending to a single company—the first program of its kind in the country. Now that company wants to throw Larry and Stanley out of the spots they have worked for decades to build kiosks that rent for almost $20,000 a year. If it does so, Larry and Stanley’s businesses will be destroyed.
Unfortunately, many American cities put up roadblocks that keep would-be vendors from climbing that ladder. In Streets of Dreams, the Institute for Justice reviewed vending laws in America’s 50 largest cities. It found that of those 50 cities, 45 have one or more anticompetitive restrictions on vending. Atlanta has some of the most onerous burdens in the country, and the monopoly Atlanta has created has cost vendors their jobs and threatens to kill vending as a way for ordinary Atlantans to succeed.
To protect the economic liberty of all Georgians, Larry and Stanley have joined with the Institute for Justice to challenge Atlanta’s vending monopoly. This lawsuit, filed on July 28, 2011 in the Superior Court for Fulton County, Georgia, is the second case in the Institute’s National Street Vending Initiative. It argues that Atlanta lacks the power to grant an exclusive vending franchise and that its actions violate the Georgia constitution. A victory will not only free Atlanta’s vending community; it will make other cities think twice before entering into similarly anticompetitive arrangements.
To read more about this case go to www.ij.org/atlanta-vending.