“Democracy has lots of flaws and one of them is the way it tempts special interest groups to manipulate governmental power for anti-competitive ends.”
So says an extensive piece in Forbes that recently examined the impact of government regulations that create barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, particularly street vendors, referencing data from IJ’s groundbreaking report, Upwardly Mobile.
Since its release in October 2015, the report has been a point of reference several major outlets covering the struggle of hardworking vendors, including The New York Daily News and Vice.
Forbes contributor George Leef pointed out why so many cities are unwelcoming to food trucks, food carts, and other forms of street vending.
“Street vending makes a surprisingly large contribution to city economies–an estimated $292 million in New York in 2012, for instance–but the impact would be greater if it weren’t for laws and regulations that are in place mainly, if not entirely, to protect existing retailers (including licensed vendors) from facing increased competition.”
Leef also mentions Chicago’s strict food truck laws, which IJ has been helping vendors fight to scale back. Under Chicago’s regulation of food trucks, it is illegal for operators to sell within 200 feet of any fixed business that serves food. The report highlights how this has made large portions of the city inaccessible to food truck operators.
Dick Carpenter, author of the report and Director of Strategic Research at IJ, emphasizes that cities have a lot to gain by welcoming street vendors.
“Our findings demonstrate that street vending is a diverse and vibrant industry that gives people the ability to support themselves, their families and their communities. Cities that restrict or flat-out ban street vending are shutting out the economic benefits the industry brings—jobs, taxes and more goods and services.”