Judge Orders City To Issue Vending Permits; City Plans To Appeal

Oct 9, 2013

Credit Atlanta Vendors Association

A Fulton County judge says the city of Atlanta must issue permits to street vendors, but the years-long legal battle might not be over just yet.

In a court order issued Tuesday afternoon, Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua directed the city to process applications for vendor permits under a prior ordinance. The ruling comes one day after the Atlanta Braves wrapped up its season.

Robert Frommer is an attorney for the Institute of Justice and represents the vendors.

“There’s really nothing to argue about anymore,” Frommer says of the order. “It’s time to just let these people get back to work.”

Vendors have been out of work since March, when they were cleared out to make way for a more uniform city ordinance after the previous system was found unconstitutional in December 2012. The city hasn’t issued any vending permits since.

The city council this summer tabled a measure that would have allowed the vendors to temporarily return to work under the previous ordinance, though area surrounding Five Points MARTA Station would have remained off limits.  

In a statement issued Wednesday, the city says it plans to appeal the order. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed echoed that plan.

“The bottom line is I’m not going to allow Atlanta to be turned into a swap meet,” Reed says. “If you go to five points right now and look at it, it is a night and day difference than the way that it had looked for the last 20 years. We’re not going back there.”

Frommer says if the order is appealed, he’s confident Judge LaGrua’s decision will be upheld.

“These people have a right to work, and if the city, when it has a law that lets you work as a street vendor has to abide by that law just as any other person in Georgia,” Frommer says.

Reed says his administration is still working on a new vending ordinance and plans to establish a system by the end of the year.

Should the city appeal, the issue would head to the Georgia Supreme Court.