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  • A Free Market Victory for El Paso Street Vendors

    Competition beat regulation in a big way two weeks ago in El Paso, Texas. Recently, the city made it illegal for mobile food vendors to sell anywhere within 1,000 feet of a restaurant or grocery store.  The  vendors of El Paso weren’t happy about the business killing regulation, which served to protect the restaurants and grocers from outside competition.

    If broken, the law required vendors to pay steep fines and essentially forced them out of business. Four independent mobile food vendors partnered with the Institute for Justice to file a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, against the city, challenging the Constitutionality of the law’s economic protectionism.

    The lawsuit also marked the beginning of the National Street Vending Initiative, an activism platform to ensure the proper rights of street vendors.

    The vendors won their case, and last week, the city pronounced a new ordinance relinquishing the overbearing location regulations.  The case was a huge victory for mobile food vendors across the nation, setting a standard against competition-killing, over-regulatory laws that hurt these hardworking Americans.

    According to the Institute for Justice, “El Paso vendors are now free to vend (with certain limited exceptions) anywhere in the city, and restaurants must compete on the basis of quality, service, and price—rather than using the power of government to shut down mobile vendors.”

    Thousands of Americans around the nation operate food vending trucks for a living. They are a charming asset to touristy spots, ready to meet consumer desires quickly. A cold water bottle on a hot day or quick snack before visiting another museum are reliable conveniences and many business owners are eager to fulfill the need.

    The overbearing regulations in El Paso represented the antithesis of free enterprise, discouraging individuals – many of them legal American immigrants — from creating their own living and raising unemployment numbers even more.

    Entrepreneurs are often said to be the lifeblood of the American economy and creating an atmosphere of growth is essential for America’s fiscal health.  In a recent paper, Heritage analysts James Sherk, Karen Campbell, Ph.D and John Ligon concluded:

    “To reduce unemployment Congress should improve the business climate. Reducing or removing barriers to wealth creation would spur entrepreneurs and investors to act. They would invest in new projects to take advantage of these opportunities and create new jobs in the process.”

    Kudos to the business owners and the Institute for Justice for securing victory for America’s entrepreneurs.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to A Free Market Victory for El Paso Street Vendors

    1. West Texan says:

      Next time I visit El Paso, I'll be sure to grab lunch at a street vendor. It's good to hear they beat this unfair city ordinance.

    2. Roger S., Mass. says:

      Congratulations! (On the other hand, sorry that a law suit was necessary.)

      A victory against "crony capitalism" in microcosm. We need more of these! For instance, it is very difficult to understand the reasoning behind regulations in Florida which ban the business of interior decorating without a license — a license obtainable only upon fulfilling a multiple of requirements…. Worse, somebody hiring an unlicensed interior decorator is equally liable to prosecution…. All of which has more an aspect of limiting competition in a free market than protecting anybody or anything, except of course — protectionism itself: The "control freaks" are placed in charge of all of us, and Big Gov. inflated beyond reason, at our expense!

      As a society, we need to come off this "no risk for anyone, cradle to grave" trip, at all levels: Federal, State, and Local. If we fail to reach a new consensus regarding this issue we can say "Good Bye" to growth as we knew it!

    3. Mike, Royse City, TX says:

      Good for them. This is an example for everyone to see and learn from. Don't let the government get so big that it thinks it has the kind of authority to dictate such trivial details of daily life. More government equals less freedom.

    4. Rodrigo Lopez says:

      I am new to El Paso from L.A. I would love to get in contact with anyone who is familiar with the El Paso “food vendor scene”. I would love to sample some of it and also be a part of it…thanks

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