Last December, the Fulton County Superior Court declared unconstitutional Atlanta’s street vendor program that allowed a private company to determine who gets to operate a business on public streets. I vehemently defended the decision, not just because it was unconstitutional under Georgia’s constitution, but because it raised serious 1st Amendment questions under the United States Constitution.
Atlanta has now rolled out its new proposal. No longer is a private company deciding who can operate a business on public streets. The Atlanta Police Department will issue permits based on standards that apply to everyone; unlike the previous agreement, economic impact and revenue-generation will have no impact on what businesses are issued permits. Some businesses are asking for relief from the initial permitting fee, but generally the new program will allow many more vendors to operate on Atlanta’s streets.
The Superior Court decision is being appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, so it is possible the original Atlanta street vendor program that allowed a private company to dictate what businesses operate on public property could be reinstated.
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