Hialeah City Council passes new regulations for street vendors

Street vendors rally outside city hall before meeting

HIALEAH, Fla. – The Hialeah City Council has passed new regulations that would impact the city's street vendors, who rallied ahead of the meeting Tuesday.

Under the new ordinance passed Tuesday evening, vendors will be allowed to display merchandise on private property and they can stay in one place. They will no longer be required to be always moving.

However, the council added new restrictions, including sales near highways. Many vendors say they seek shade in highway overpasses.

Vendors in the city said they currently make their living by dodging traffic at major intersections as they sell flowers or produce.

"They should be regulated, yes," said one driver.

"They are making a living on it," said another.

Regulations were already in place, but wen't always enforced. For example, vendors are not supposed to display their wares.

Attorney Claudia Murray with The Institute for Justice believes they are entrepreneurs.

"Vending is the first stepping stone to the American dream," said Murray.

The Institute for Justice sued the city in December, arguing the current regulations are unconstitutional. She said the city is planning to change its vending laws in response to the lawsuit by removing two of the regulations, but is also looking to add others, including keeping vendors 300 feet from an overpass, where the vendors often use as shade. Another regulation would require the vendors to stay in one place.

"By requiring vendors to stand still, you are impeding them from effectively vending because they can't build a customer base," said Murray.

Manuel, a vendor, asked in Spanish what else can vendors do, saying all the jobs have gone to China.

"I admire those vendors, but we have to do things the correct way," said Mayor Carlos Hernandez. "We cannot allow our streets to become, you know, a flea market."

Some say what the vendors are doing is dangerous.

"It makes it feel like Hialeah, yeah, but I'm not too into vendors on the street," said one man.

The city claims the new regulations they will vote Tuesday night are a way to clarify what vendors can and cannot do.

"I don't think they should do that," said a woman who supports vendors. "It is already tough as it is."

"This city has been very lenient and I will repeat that over and over again," said Hernandez. "Very lenient with vendors because we are a blue collar city. We are proud of that."

"I guess there's some people when you give them a finger, they take the hand. But my job is to take care of the city," continued Hernandez. "I have to look at the overall community and do what's best for everybody."