Judge orders Atlanta to permit street vendors

A Fulton County judge has ordered the city of Atlanta to give street vendors permits to operate while they continue their court fight over the right to do business.

A 2008 city ordinance essentially ran them off from the sidewalks where they sold their wares, turning over the street vending program to a private company. Last year a judge struck down the program, ruling it unfairly interfered with legal business.

Since that ruling last December, the city has decided not to issue any vending permits, arguing it needed time to pass a new ordinance to satisfy the courts. Vendors have urged the city should immediately go back to the vending rules in place prior to the 2008 ordinance.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua wrote in an order issued Tuesday that the vendors did not have to wait the outcome of stalled legislation before the City Council that would put public street vendors licensed in 2012 to work in a limited way — at Turner Field and a handful of city-designated kiosks in the downtown area — but not around Five Points where there were complaints of disorderliness.

Her order opens all the sidewalks to vendors based on the previous ordinance.