by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef explains for Forbes readers negative consequences linked to city street vending limitations.
One field that is particularly cluttered with such obstacles is street vending. A new study released by the Institute for Justice, Upwardly Mobile, focuses on the difficulties real life entrepreneurs face in our major cities (as well as some smaller ones) as they try to gain a foothold and grow. Sometimes they’ve had to fold–not for lack of effort and ideas but simply because city regulations were too burdensome.
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.
Consider Chicago’s regulation of food trucks, which makes it illegal for operators to sell within 200 feet of any fixed business that serves food. That law, the report states, “has made entire swaths of Chicago inaccessible to food trucks.”
What if some vendor should decide to risk defying the law and engage in a consensual transaction with a customer less than 200 feet from a fixed food business? The fine for a violation runs up to $2,000. Moreover, the city compels vendors to have a GPS tracking device on each vehicle so the government can keep an eagle eye out for illegal vending.
Big Brother is tracking you.
All of that entails a great waste of resources for no purpose except the city’s desire to keep down competition from food trucks.