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Hialeah reworks its limits on street vendors

The Hialeah City Council on Tuesday approved changes to the city’s rules regulating roadside vendors in response to a lawsuit filed by a nonprofit law firm.

Vendors will no longer have to stay 300 feet away from brick-and-mortar stores that sell similar goods — a restriction that the Institute for Justice called anticompetitive and unconstitutional in a lawsuit filed in 2011 on behalf of the vendors.

The changes also allow vendors — who sell flowers, bottled water, trinkets and other goods on Hialeah’s busy street corners — to store and display their goods on private property as long as they get written permission from the property owner.

They also do away with a requirement that vendors be constantly moving, according to City Attorney William Grodnick.

“Requiring them to move all the time means they can’t build up a customer base,” said Claudia S. Murray, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. “And if they can’t build up a customer base, they can’t build a business.”

The new law enacts some new restrictions, including a ban on selling near highways and on selling prepared foods. And the new ordinance still restricts vendors to displaying only the amount of goods they can carry themselves.

“This city has always opened its arms to the vendors, and we are a city of workers,” said Mayor Carlos Hernandez. “We want to support them, but we also have to balance their safety, the safety of drivers and the safety of the people of this great city of Hialeah.”

Murray said the institute is likely to amend its lawsuit and continue with its court action.

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