Crony Capitalism

Atlanta Continues Tormenting Street Vendors with New Regulations

New ordinance rushed through to try to avoid contempt charges against mayor


Chaos! Utter chaos!
Credit: tigger89 / / CC BY-NC

In October, Reason Intern Jess Remington updated readers with the latest about Atlanta's war on street vendors. The city revoked the business permits of independent vendors and handed the rights to sell to a monopoly. The Institute for Justice represented some of the affected vendors and fought back. A judge ruled in their favor last year, but rather than comply, Mayor Kasim Reed shut down all street vending. In October, the judge ruled yet again that Reed must allow the street vendors back their permits.

But the city and the mayor still hadn't complied and are now facing a potential contempt ruling for defying the judge's orders.

In order to get the judge off the city's backs, Atlanta's City Council passed an ordinance Monday creating more regulations and conditions for vendors to operate. The Institute for Justice is not impressed.

"The ordinance is a step back for Atlanta vendors," Institute for Justice Attorney Rob Frommer told Reason. Among the problems with the new rules, Frommer explained, is that it replaces the proposed private monopoly with the government instead. The government will still control where vendors can sell goods, mandate how they sell things, and even control exactly what goods they may sell. A street vendor may not sell items that are the same as what's being sold in nearby brick-and-mortar shops.

"The end result is the same," Frommer said. "There's less opportunities, less choice, and less benefits for consumers." He described the anticompetitive product restrictions as "patently unconstitutional."

Frommer said the Institute for Justice will have to assess the ordinance more thoroughly before deciding their next steps, as it was rammed through in just two weeks, and there's been little analysis. In the meantime, they're still pushing forward to try to have the judge rule Mayor Reed in contempt.

"For 11 months, Mayor Reed violated the law by preventing honest entrepreneurs from working," Frommer said. "We expect the court to call him to account for his lawless actions."

Below, the Institute for Justice's video explainer about the ongoing fight. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the city is not providing in these new rules an option for street vendors around Turner Field, where the Braves play:


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  1. The pettiness and arrogance of the common elected official is a continuing source of bewilderment to me.

    1. Not to mention the unelected ones.

      1. Georgia elects her judges, so not sure what your point is.

    2. “Fuck you, pay me!”

    3. Why, Hugh? It’s the entire reason they gravitate towards the position in the first place. In your life, you must have known at least one person who was so petty, venal, and vicious that you made sure you associated with them as little as possible. Guess what? That’s who comprises the ranks of basically all politicians.

      1. I do try to avoid people like that as much as possible, but there’s not much I can do about you posting here.

        1. There’s not much anyone can do about me posting here! HA HA HA HA HA! Also, can I tag along on your date tonight? Please?

          1. Are you going to video-conference in on his alone time with his right hand and a bottle of canola oil?

            1. If he’ll let me…

              Also, I’m pretty sure Hugh is a Crisco kind of guy.

              1. How could he say no?

                I’m pretty sure Hugh is a Crisco kind of guy

                Wait, how the fuck did Nicole end up as the worst if Hugh is a Crisco kind of guy?

                1. Solid at room temperature, liquid in your… hand.

                2. nicole is the worst because she’s a chick. They’re always the worst. Duh.

                  1. But…Crisco…

                    Pleasuring oneself with Crisco is like putting margarine on your toast.

                    1. jesse, you might want to ask one of the old timey homos in the Fall Festival Association about this…

                    2. I had thought about that, but decided to just gloss over specific instances where it might be appropriate.

                      I have a long-standing (cooking-related) enmity toward Crisco, and can’t be in the same room as the stuff. I’m busily universalizing personal preference here.

                  2. nicole is the worst because she’s a chick.

                    I don’t like him, but I have to agree with him.

              2. Hunger, hunger
                I love like thunder, yeah
                Hunger, hunger
                You feed my hunger, yeah
                Hunger, hunger, yeah

                Take it to the top
                My love, let’s take it to the top
                With a fist way past the rest
                Take it to the top

                You fit me like a glove
                My love, you fit me like a glove
                Give my friend, my be-bop
                Take it to the top, my love

                Krisco kisses, kisses
                Never misses, misses
                Krisco kisses, kisses
                You can take it, take it, up, up and up

  2. Can’t allow people to engage in economic activity without asking permission and obeying orders! That would be chaos!

  3. I dont think slack daddy is gonna like that.

    1. slack daddy? wait till Jack Frapp gets hold of this!

  4. Mayor Reed can’t be all that bad; after all, he supports “marriage equality”. Why, he’s almost a libertarian!

    1. He praises Reed as “combining a soft touch with a hard head”.


  5. Nope, it would be ANARKEE without these regulations.

    Or, at the least, arguing against them means you think these rules are THE END OF FREEDUMZ! and that we’re all SLAVEZ!! DERP!

    Which is ridiculous, cause LOOK at all the freeddumz the government allows us to have! Stoopid libertardians! You just want ANARKEE!

    Cause – Prog.

  6. Follow the money. Which one of the mayor’s cronies is the recipient of his ***cough*** consumer protection?

    Having the police enforce a contempt order looks pretty cut and dry to me. “What’s that? You won’t enforce our orders? Good luck getting trials scheduled.”

  7. First they came for the street vendors… then they came for the street vendors…and then they came for the street vendors…

  8. In order to get the judge off the city’s backs, Atlanta’s City Council passed an ordinance Monday creating more regulations and conditions for vendors to operate.


  9. But the city and the mayor still hadn’t complied and are now facing a potential contempt ruling for defying the judge’s orders.

    Sounds like a few hours of time-out might give the mayor a much-needed attitude adjustment. Sure, we don’t want contempt citations abused, but this sounds like a clear-cut case of contempt. The only thing I can figure is that the political class is loath to enforce the rules on their own kind. But you let them get away with it and the next thing you know you’re just some guy in a robe.

  10. Atlanta is a dying shithole of a city. I’m sure these regulations will totally help bring the city back to life.

  11. “For 11 months, Mayor Reed violated the law by preventing honest entrepreneurs from working,” Frommer said. “We expect the court to call him to account for his lawless actions.”

    You bet! Why, the court will ask him to please not do that any more!

  12. I think the mayor should just require the vendors to have “shops” that meet a minimum standard. If your “shop” does not meet this standard it will go away and I can recommend a new “shop” provider (call this guy landlord) that will provide storefront that does not offend leaderships senses.

    I live in Atlanta, the street vendors are pretty trashy. Their cheap sunglasses aren’t going to destroy or lift the city to some great level of economic prosperity.

    But the streetcar sure will. You just wait and see!

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