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Uptown street vendors could face new rules

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Food trucks in Uptown Athens in 2009. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The resolution, proposed by Council Member Patrick McGee, hopes to free up unused parking spaces. 

Athens food vendors may soon have to follow new parking and vending protocols if an ordinance read at Monday’s City Council meeting moves forward.

The ordinance, introduced by Council Member Patrick McGee, would alter the current business regulations regarding vending and peddling. It would reduce the amount of allotted vendor parking spaces in Athens from 10 to 8. The ordinance will also lower the current cost to obtain a vending license from a yearly payment of $1,500 to a monthly fee of $125.

McGee decided to seek changes to the current vending system after noticing how infrequently some reserved vending spots are actually utilized.

“During Dad’s weekend, I was uptown and I noticed all these dads were driving around looking for parking spaces,” McGee said. “But there were ten vending parking spaces on the College Green totally unused.”

Additionally, the ordinance would allow the mayor to set aside certain city-owned spaces for vendors. Some vendors may also have the option to seek permission from other businesses to conduct business on their private property rather than going through the mayor’s office.

However, Damon Krane, the owner of the Hot Potato food truck, has concerns about the vendor’s ability to sell on private property.

“The ability of vendors to operate on private property is an option in theory, not so much in practice,” Krane said. “There aren’t any private lots that are accessible uptown right now to mobile vendors.”

Will Drury, the owner of The Cajun Clucker food truck, also expressed some frustrations with the current vending licensing program. Drury currently runs his business at Little Fish Brewery.

“The primary reason I ended up full-time out at Little Fish was the parking program was so poorly run I had to abandon it,” Drury said.

Drury was also concerned that he and other vendors had not been informed about these new changes ahead of time.

“I found out about this ordinance at 1 a.m. on Facebook,” Drury said. “Everyone has my number, I’m a known vendor. This is my investment, and I wasn’t given the opportunity to know about a change that may affect it.”

However, McGee stated that he put a great deal of effort into notifying vendors about the potential changes that would be happening.

“I’ve been working on this and putting it out at committee for five months, and those meetings are open to the public,” McGee said. “I’ve walked around to everyone that had a vendor spot and talked to them and asked them what they thought. No one was trying to make this a secret operation. I’ve bent over to make it known to the public that this is going on.”

McGee also mentioned he has been in contact with vendors, including Krane, about new details with the ordinance each time it was brought up in committee.

Council also discussed an ordinance that would provide funding to the city to create “complete streets,” which would analyze the exact traffic of certain streets to allow better mobility for pedestrians and motor vehicles.

This may include altered intersections or short crossing areas along Washington, College, Congress, State and Court streets. However, funding for this project may not be realized for a few more years, as the council is still finalizing an exact budget for the project.

The council also approved temporary street closings and suspended some vending license laws and excessive noise laws during the summer events Boogie on the Bricks and Brew Week.

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