Hialeah, Fla.—As hard as it is for vendors to earn an honest living in Hialeah, Fla., the city council there is trying to make things even worse. In response to a lawsuit filed by vendors to defend their economic liberty, the city of Hialeah is planning to change its vending laws. But instead of reducing restrictions so vendors can freely vend without fear of arbitrary government regulations, the city plans to make the law even more onerous. Hialeah will conduct a first reading of the proposed amendments to the city’s vending code at 7:00p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.
Although the proposed amendments would repeal the most arbitrary and anticompetitive provision in the code—the requirement that vendors stay 300 feet away from any store that sells “the same or similar merchandise” as the vendor—the city plans to make it even more difficult to vend by adding new regulations, including a $500 fine for anyone caught violating the new laws. The proposed amendments set up a bizarre scheme in which vendors, whether on public or private property, would have to keep moving at all times except when flagged down. Even if a consumer flags down a vendor, the consumer would have to give written permission for the vendor to sell him goods—on the consumer’s own property. And vendors would continue to be forbidden to display their wares.
The proposed amendments would also ban food trucks and hot dog carts altogether by prohibiting them from selling prepared food and staying in one place. That means that, in Hialeah, the only place consumers could buy food is from a brick-and-mortar establishment.
“We brought a lawsuit on behalf of vendors because the city made it legal to be a vendor but illegal to vend effectively,” said Claudia Murray, an attorney at the Institute for Justice’s Florida Chapter. “These new restrictions would make life even worse for vendors and the consumers they seek to serve. This proposed legislation makes it clear that the city is trying to put the vendors out of business. But in this state and this nation, people have the right to earn an honest living in the occupation of their choice free from arbitrary and abusive government regulation. That’s what our lawsuit seeks to vindicate.”
The new regulations would take effect right before Valentine’s Day, the busiest day of the year for flower vendors, who have been the most outspoken against these laws.