Artists, including some who were plaintiffs successful in obtaining an injunction in a recent lawsuit against the city, voiced their objections to a new vendor ordinance before the commission – but this time, they were unsuccessful.
At last night’s St. Augustine City Commission meeting, Commissioner Don Crichlow made a motion to approve controversial new ordinances that limits all sales in the Plaza – including artists.
The ordinances restrict Plaza vending, ban vending as well as street entertainers on St. George Street and prohibit sale of food and beverages throughout the city in public ways.
As the ordinances advance to public hearings September 14th, twelve locations in the Public Market building will be assigned to vendors on a month-to-month basis beginning October 1st.
City Attorney Ron Brown said to expect additional ordinances as the city readjusts to recent court rulings.
Although there are still administrative details that are to be decided by staff, the city will create a random, lottery process to select the twelve successful vendors every month.
The cost of the month-long permit will be $75.00.
Whether the new ordinances will resolve the problems at the forefront of the debate on the Plaza remains to be seen.
Once implemented, the only sales allowed in the Plaza will be sales made by the twelve permitted vendors — which drew fire from visual artists who protested that the sale of their work is protected as expressive speech.
Questions raised in last night’s public hearing included concerns that the business being conducted is properly licensed and that the successful vendors have adequate insurance to protect the city from liability for their activities.
Even representative vendors complained that the new spaces will be too small and that customers will not go to the public market building to shop.
Crichlow’s motion was unanimously approved by the commission.
Photo credit: Historic City News photographer Kerry McGuire