Street vending to be legalized in DC? New bill could make it a possibility

Council members in D.C. are considering a bill that would decriminalize street vending in the District.

The Street Vendor Advancement Amendment Act of 2023 would not only decriminalize street vending, but also wave currently unpaid citations for vendors, making it easier for street vendors to get licenses. It would also establish zones for sidewalk vending.

“The decriminalization piece is very important because there’s just really no need to involve the police when somebody is vending without a license,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who introduced the legislation alongside Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

“Our licensing agency has the authority to go out and issue citations, and that’s how it should be handled,” she added.

Nadeau has introduced similar legislation in the past to assist street vendors. She says the process to get licensed is difficult.

“It’s incredibly expensive and it’s onerous, and there is a significant amount of red tape,” she said.

Eloisa Diaz, an empanada street vendor who has been selling for the last four years, told WTOP that being a street vendor in the District is stressful and difficult. She said that many vendors have had issues with police who confront them for selling without a license.

“We need support from the city to help us to be free, and be independent and not have any difficulty with the police because it’s a hard struggle to sell outside,” said Diaz.

She said she appreciates the council members who have drafted up the legislation.

“I was so excited and screaming when somebody called me and told me Mr. Mendelson … is trying to help us get a better way to get the license,” she said.

Stetson Miller

Stetson Miller is an anchor and reporter for WTOP. He has worked in TV newsrooms for the last several years in New York, Baltimore, Washington and Charleston, SC.

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