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A Free Market Victory for El Paso Street Vendors

Posted By Ericka Andersen On May 9, 2011 @ 10:18 am In Economics | Comments Disabled

Competition beat regulation in a big way two weeks ago in El Paso, Texas [1]. 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 [2] 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 [3], 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.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/05/09/a-free-market-victory-for-el-paso-street-vendors/

URLs in this post:

[1] two weeks ago in El Paso, Texas: http://www.ij.org/about/3790

[2] a federal lawsuit: http://dockets.justia.com/docket/texas/txwdce/3:2011cv00035/464428/

[3] paper: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/12/a-free-enterprise-prescription-unleashing-entrepreneurs-to-create-jobs

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