Commission holds transient vendor workshop Monday


400-VIC-VENDORS-1The City’s itinerant vendors; traveling from place to place looking for public venues to sell their wares, like so many gypsy snake oil salesmen, some without insurance and proper licenses, unregistered to collect and remit state sales tax, and those who sell from mobile carts, will be discussed in a special meeting Monday afternoon.

At 4:00 p.m., the St Augustine City Commission will convene a special meeting for the specific purpose of considering what to do with mobile or itinerant vendors; a topic which Mayor Joe Boles says must be addressed with the highest priority.

The legal quagmire that has hamstrung the City as they have poorly attempted to address vending in public areas, such as the Plaza de la Constitution and market building, west plaza of Government House, and, most recently, the Visitor Information Center between the Historic Downtown Parking Facility and Orange Street, will, no doubt, be grist for the mill as commissioners attempt to balance concerns for First Amendment protected speech, and access to public places, against pedestrian and motor vehicle safety and concerns for public health.

You would think that the lawyers for the city, and the lawyers on the commission, would have a PhD in Constitutional Law by now; considering the number of times they have been down this road. During Monday’s workshop, they will parse through their options; using due care to provide suitable alternative public space for any legitimate public use that will be restricted or denied at any other specific public location. Also expect them to be careful that any restriction contemplated is “content neutral” — applying to all public uses equally.

No binding vote or action can be taken during an ad hoc workshop by the Commission. The public has the right to attend, but not speak unless invited by the commissioners. New legislation is working its way through the current session that may relax those restrictions.

If you plan to attend, the City Commission Workshop will be held on Monday, April 8, 2013, beginning at 4:00 P.M. in the Alcazar Room of the City Hall Building located at 75 King Street in St Augustine. The workshop is not televised.

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