Street vendors have new hope for public vending to return

Atlanta vendors, in an ongoing battle with city officials preventing them from opening shop on public streets, say they have new hope the city’s vending program will be revived.

Members of the Atlanta Vendors Association met with Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua on Thursday, asking for clarification to her December 2012 ruling that struck down the city’s agreement with a private street vending management company.

LaGrua originally ruled the city’s contract with General Growth Properties, intended to bring order to the vending scene, effectively granted the Chicago-based company an exclusive franchise in violation of the city charter.

But Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration claimed her ruling essentially eliminated public street vending. City officials have yet to create guidelines for a new program and haven’t issued any vending permits this year.

Robert Frommer, an attorney who represents some vendors, said his clients are suffering without the ability to work on public streets. Some have received permits to vend on private property, but have still seen their income drop, he said.

“Some of them are really struggling,” Frommer said. “People are having trouble making ends meet. This is their livelihood.”

The vendors expect the judge to issue another ruling in their favor in coming days or weeks, though it remains unclear whether that could compel city officials to immediately issue permits allowing them to get back to work.

Until then, vendors plan to rally in front of Atlanta City Hall on Monday.

City officials say they hope to have a new public street vending program in place by the end of the year.

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