New Downtown Vendor Rules Approved

City Council has given preliminary approval to a long-overdue overhaul of the regulations that govern vendors on the Downtown Mall. Responding to merchant complaints that downtown comes to look like an overcrowded flea market around Christmas, the new regulations increase the annual cost for a vendor’s license from $120 (if memory serves) to $400, and charges $2 per square foot in rent. Smaller changes include prohibiting open flames, unapproved clothing racks, and require table coverings to be black. Final approval is expected at the next City Council meeting in two weeks. Elizabeth Nelson has the story in today’s Progress.

11 thoughts on “New Downtown Vendor Rules Approved”


    hummm I guess the city coucil has it all plan out.

  2. It’s about bloody well time that this happened. I used to be a downtown vendor, and I have been friends with a number of vendors for many, many years, and I’ve been wanting this overhaul since the mid 90s.

    The problem with the current system is that it’s outdated. Ten years ago, there was no need to limit business on the Mall — “come one, come all, we need your business, please.” Now, vendors pile up so heavily at times that it’s necessary to walk a block and a half just to cross to the other side of the Mall. They overflow so that they block the entrance to shops along the Mall. There are no size restrictions, yet restaurateurs have to pay by the square foot for their cafes. The acrimony between shopkeepers and vendors has gradually built over the past five years or so, and it’s gotten bad.

    Just like rent, the city ought to be getting market rate for vending spots. $2 a square foot is totally reasonable. An increase to $400 from $120 (which is how much I paid when I was 16 years old and making and selling juggling apparatus; I assume that’s still the price now) is, likewise, totally reasonable, given the obvious increase in value of that real estate. The black tablecloth thing is odd, because vendors have been told for years that they had to use black cloths. To my knowledge, this is nothing new.

    If it were up to me, we’d have assigned spots — a few on each block — that would go up for individual auction each year. Nobody else could vend on the Mall.

    However, that would be totally unreasonable if it didn’t happen in tandem with the creation of a year-round market, the fabled farmer’s market that Council has been dangling before vendors for twenty years now, in the style of downtown Roanoke or Blacksburg. (The Blacksburg farmer’s market is out my living room window. :) It would have to have established stands for vendors to use any time of day, no rent required, located in a conspicuous place right downtown. Without simultaneously providing this, I think that the limitations would serve as an unreasonable restraint on commerce.

    Enough writing here — I’ve got 1,600 words to churn out about Gabriel Kolko’s Another Century of War?, and every word written here is a word not written where it should be. :)

  3. The color of the vendors tablecloths is none of the city’s business. What’s next, a vendors dress code requiring "authentic colonial era garb"?

  4. The vendors are setting up on public property, and for this reason I feel that using black tablecloths is a valid request, especially if vendors pay for their space knowing this restriction.

  5. The logic under which such standards are established is the same logic by which the city has design standards that must be met by shopkeepers that own or rent spaces in buildings.

    If you’re opposed to such standards, a city like Las Vegas or Houston may be places that appeal to you more than Charlottesivlle or, say, nearly every other city in the nation.

  6. The color of the tablecloths is not important and will have no significant impact on the vendors or the Mall. What does matter is the willingness of an aspiring young politician to support the suppression of personal creative freedoms for such an insignificant thing. It’s none of your business or the governments.

    As for the logic of the city’s design control tyranny…HA! This is the same "logic" that tried to force the replacement of the traditional streetlights in front of the ice rink with those UGLY gooseneck things and the same logic that approved the very modern LiveArts building but forced the removal of the stone arches from Kuttner’s building. Thank god the design tyrants liked the use and the people at LiveArts. If it had been a use or a person they found "distasteful" we just would have had more faux Jeffersonian crap.

    Bring back the "Barney" bus!

  7. "I’ve got 1,600 words to churn out about Gabriel Kolko’s Another Century of War……….."

    For what it is worth, I have always thought a prof`s requirement (I`m asuming that`s what you are fulfilling) is foolish when it prescibes the number of words to be written.

    It invites verbosity and the habit thereof.

    The students should be given the latitude to use the number of words they need to meet a reasoned objective and summarize their thoughts.


    Trust but tie your camel.

  8. Vendors should be male, between 5`8" and 5` 10", not more than 160 lbs, brown hair or shaven, of European descent, reside in Charlottesville, invest capital of not less than $5000, vote the straight Democratic ticket,demonstrate for whatever cause comes down the pike, be disrespectful towards their customers,and use cigar boxes for cash registers. Their signs must be octagonal, red, and constructed of half inch thick copper.

    As Seinfeld would say "Now we`re getting somewhere!" (Remember, that was his comment on the rules for sex with Elaine)

  9. For what it is worth, I have always thought a prof`s requirement (I`m asuming that`s what you are fulfilling) is foolish when it prescibes the number of words to be written.

    It invites verbosity and the habit thereof.

    I could not agree more. I have some professors that require exactly 1,600 (or however many) words — no more, no less, which is really obnoxious. For the paper that I wrote last night, I found that 1,800 was necessary to get my point across, although it would have been more like 1,000 if I didn’t have to put the requisite quantity of quotes and citations from the book in there.

    I suspect that things are as they are because so many students are lazy, and want to get away with the bare minimum. Giving them verbosity requirements may encourage providing sufficient thought. In my case (and yours, I assume), it results in just that — verbosity.

  10. A professor may have as many as 1000 students. It simply isnt feasable to read all the papers. The length is a requirement because it allows the professor to force the student to learn, without actually checking if they did or not.

    If you hand in a short paper, they would have to actually read it to see if you understand the subject. If you write a 10 page paper, he knows you spent enough time doing it that you couldnt help but learn something.

    The paper is not the goal, the learning is. You could (and should) throw the paper out once you’re done.

  11. I think you are sincere in your comment but I don`t buy into the effectiveness. If I write a ten page paper I want constructive criticism or my enthusiasm sinks way down.

    There is an old truism: " One Army cook can cook for millions if he has a sufficient number of Kps"

    TAs do what? Tuition is how much? Profs are God?

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