Lemonade is Not a Crime


As a former employee and part-owner of an illegal (and yet very profitable) lawn-care operation, I'm particularly sensitive to stories about the overweening enforcement of licensing requirements against children. Check out this one from Tulare, California:

The story began Monday morning when Daniela and her stepmother, Marisa Earnest, set up shop at Cartmill Avenue and Hillman Street in north Tulare. The lemonade was freshly squeezed and priced at $2 for a 32-ounce plastic cup.

Richard Garcia, a Tulare code enforcement officer, happened to be at the same intersection to remove illegal signs left behind by someone selling tetherball poles.

Garcia told Daniela and her stepmother that their lemonade stand—on the northwest corner of the busy intersection—was not safe, and also that they needed a business license to sell lemonade….

"[Garcia] wasn't out there on lemonade patrol," said Frank Furtaw, Tulare's code enforcement manager. Garcia was merely applying the city's code enforcement laws equitably, Furtaw said. 

Cue the vice mayor of Tulare, who is obviously still honing his not-being-a-hypocrite skills:

Vice Mayor Philip Vandegrift said a compromise—possibly asking lemonade stand operators to pay a nominal fee or establishing a license fee waiver for children under a certain age—could be the outcome of Daniela's experience.

However, the city needs to enforce vendor laws, Vandegrift said, "otherwise we'll have people on every corner."

But Vandegrift doesn't want to take away lemonade stands from children. For many, it represents their first opportunity to flex their entrepreneurial muscles.

"I had many a lemonade stand as a kid right in front of my home," he said. 

In 2005, Nick Gillespie noted a similar incident in Massachusetts.