Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Michigan Daily: "Policy could ban hot dog vendors"

11. March 2008 • Bruce Fields
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From The Michigan Daily:

By the end of this month, the city of Ann Arbor will begin enforcing an ordinance that prohibits parking vehicles on public sidewalks. Though the policy may seem mundane, it could spell doom for longtime campus staples like hot dog vendors and other sidewalk snack shacks.

  1. Oh man, this pisses me off! And from skateboarding enthusiast Steven Kunselman no less. I hate the idea that Ann Arbor could ban the street vendors. I think they bring a much needed vitality and liveliness to the sidewalks, not to mention some great food. It is one of the best perks about working downtown. One of the things I miss most about living in Boston is the street vendors. I would like to see a lot more, and not just food. I have always thought that street vendors selling flowers would be a great addition downtown as would some selling newspapers. I think the city should sell their water bottles and maps on the streets downtown. I like the vendors during football games. I love that my neighborhood has a second-generation hot dog vendor who comes one day a week and everyone flocks to him. I would like to have more music on the streets too.

    Kunselman “cited an example of a taco stand on the corner of East William and State Streets last year that ran a generator so loudly that blind students couldn’t hear the beep that signals when it’s safe to cross the street.”

    OK, yes, this one was loud. So make them move, make them get a different generator, change that one situation, but don’t punish all the other vendors, most of whom don’t even have generators. And this comment in particular bugs me because that exact intersection has a *3 second walk signal” and very few of the intersections in town even have the beeps at all so don’t tell me suddenly it is suddenly all about the pedestrians. As a matter of fact, the street vendors make the sidewalks feel safer and more inviting.

    If a street vendor is parked in a place where they aren’t obstructing foot traffic or street traffic than who cares if the vendor leaves their cart in one spot. They are almost always tidy and they pack them up neatly. If there is any trouble with vandalism, it is the vendor who stands to lose more than anyone else.

    I think the University’s take on this is SO much more reasonable: “Jim Kosteva, the University’s director of community relations, said the University has informed city officials when vendors obstruct pedestrians or traffic but doesn’t mind the vendors selling on sidewalks.” That is what the city should do, not implement a ridiculous policy of banning them!

    If you really want to suburbanize a city, getting rid of the street vendors is a good place to start.

       —Juliew    Mar. 11 '08 - 10:36PM    #
  2. Do trailers and free standing carts count as vehicles? And where do bicycles and other human powered vehicles fit into this?

       —jcp2    Mar. 11 '08 - 11:57PM    #
  3. It looks like Kunselman is flying solo on this one. The ordinance has been sitting there for decades and no one brought it up until now.

    Wonder what his real problem is with vendors?

       —LauraB    Mar. 12 '08 - 12:06AM    #
  4. I don’t think Council member Kunselman is legally correct. Section 10:1a of the Ann Arbor City Code adopts by reference the Michigan Vehicle Code, effective May 1, 2005. According to the Michigan Vehicle Code (and in particular Michigan Compiled Laws 257.79):

    “Vehicle” means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices exclusively moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks and except, only for the purpose of titling and registration under this act, a mobile home….

    So, under the Michigan Vehicle Code, street vendor carts, being exclusively moved by human power, are not “vehicles”.

    I did not find an ordinance from 1947. I did, find however, one for 1961, which I think is the right one. City Code section 10:56 says in part:

    No person shall stop or park a vehicle, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or traffic-control device in any of the following places: (1) On a sidewalk; or, on that portion of the highway located between the property lines and the curb or curb line”.

    So if this is the correct ordinance, since it uses the term “vehicle”, it does not prohibit the parking of human-powered vendor carts on the sidewalk.

    Even though I am the elbow ornament of the City Council member, I do not pretend to speak for the City. I am just a harmless suburban lawyer.

    Paging City Attorney Stephen Postema!

       —David Cahill    Mar. 12 '08 - 12:11AM    #
  5. David, I think many of the carts are pulled by vehicles, rather than human powered. I see them getting dropped off by cars in the mornings so they could legally fall in the “vehicle” category.

       —Juliew    Mar. 12 '08 - 12:39AM    #
  6. But the vendor carts themselves, detached from their cars, are operated exclusively by human power when they are on the sidewalk, juliew. Hence no violation.

       —David Cahill    Mar. 12 '08 - 01:42AM    #
  7. Quoting: Kunselman “cited an example of a taco stand on the corner of East William and State Streets last year that ran a generator so loudly that blind students couldn’t hear the beep that signals when it’s safe to cross the street.”

    While I hear what he is saying (uh, no pun intended!), I can safely say that every student I have ever had has never relied on those beeps. As Julie says, the beeps are in very few places. And, people who are blind and visually impaired rely on many, many other things to guide them, including their vision. Very few people are totally blind, so they use whatever vision they have. Also, they have their canes and (after age 18), service animals.

    I do appreciate his concern, and I’m sure he meant well. But I wanted to chime in with my “teacher of the visually impaired”/different perspective comment for the day :)


       —TeacherPatti    Mar. 12 '08 - 02:57AM    #
  8. I happen to have a friend who is effected by this. The deal is if the ‘vehicle’ can at any point go on the highway then it can’t be parked on the sidewalk. Since the vendor carts are built apon highway approved chassis and hence can’t be parked on the sidewalk.

       —just a voice    Mar. 15 '08 - 06:13AM    #
  9. Sorry, but the “deal” is governed by the ordinance language, and your conclusion is wrong.

       —David Cahill    Mar. 15 '08 - 05:03PM    #
  10. ... If you except a definition of “exclusively” that means “exclusively when off the highway.”

    I’d love for you to be right, because I want to keep our hot dog, taco, and tamale stands, but I can’t see any reading of the definition you quoted that would exempt something from being a vehicle just because it’s pushed the last few feet onto the sidewalk.

       —Bruce Fields    Mar. 15 '08 - 06:13PM    #
  11. Stay tuned. The jungle drums say that something will happen at City Council on Monday about this.

       —David Cahill    Mar. 15 '08 - 09:36PM    #
  12. two weeks notice on a 60 yrs, unenforced, law?

    “I can recall a few people using the city right-of-way as long-term storage,” Kunselman said, referring to vendors not stowing their carts away at night. “I’ve got a problem with that.”

    “The ordinance states that motor vehicles can only park in designated areas, but Kunselman said that state law considers a vehicle anything that has an axle and wheels.” [mich daily article].

    (see cahill,#4, above).

    please add this looney ban-idea to the looney-bin where it belongs.

    “Oh, good grief,” charlie brown.

       —toasty    Mar. 16 '08 - 12:56AM    #
  13. uhhhhhhhhh, wait a minute … didn’t these vendors purchase a license to do this sort of business?

    does each license expire 31mar08? is license renewal prohibited? is aa gonna lose more “income?” will this “#$^@#$%-ed” idea dictate that lunches must be more expensive?

       —toasty    Mar. 16 '08 - 01:11AM    #
  14. City council needs to get their head out of their collective rears on this issue. Banning vendor carts is anethema to any idea of diversity or opportunity. I know a few folks who are enterprising and work hard at making a living out of vending in such a manner. You would kill off an enterprise that many find attractive. I do not think the members of this community are behind city council on this issue. I do know that some restaurant owners in certain areas might take exception to the competition, but isn’t that the american way?

    like I said, council needs to get their act together and work to IMPROVE the quality of life in this town, not RUIN it with stupid ideas like kicking vending carts off the sidewalk.

    How about limiting the number of skyscrapers that are going up all over the place with condos when the one’s we have aren’t even up to full occupancy?

    How about it?

       —Bear    Mar. 16 '08 - 03:02AM    #
  15. I tend to agree more with David Cahill’s legal anaylsis, however if any interested party wanted to test the law they could file an action for declaratory relief in the relevant court, or simply wait to be served with an infraction summons by an enforcement officer and fight it. I personally believe however that the vendor carts are a good thing and the only harm may be to the financial interest of restaurant owners.

       —Mark Koroi    Mar. 17 '08 - 06:35AM    #
  16. City extends street vendor permits, from the daily: “... the City Council voted unanimously to extend the vendors’ permits for 90 days while city officials revise a previously unenforced ordinance that prohibits vehicles from being parked on public sidewalks.”

       —Bruce Fields    Mar. 19 '08 - 06:13AM    #
  17. Also, at Sunday evening’s Council caucus, it was decided that a four-person committee would be set up to revise the ordinances. Members will be Mayor Hieftje and Council members Briere, Kunselman, and Teall.

       —David Cahill    Mar. 19 '08 - 05:27PM    #
  18. I too am for allowing the street vendors but cannot get behind D. Cahill’s lawyerly manipulation of language. The definition cited in post 4 clearly says, “…except devices exclusively moved by human power…” Cahill then ‘interprets’ that the carts, “… are operated exclusively by human power when they are on the sidewalk…” forgetting to think about the whole act which must include getting a 1,000 pound (plus?) vehicle on the sidewalk, and off again. To do this there must be a breach of the ‘exclusivity’. Alternatively maybe he thinks that if four or five big guys shove the cart over the curb then it is also not a ‘vehicle’. I have seen people pick up Volkswagons and other small cars; once picked up do they cease to be vehicles under Michigan law?

    The spirit of the language cited above is perfectly clear and the council should not try to play games with the English language, as Cahill suggests, to allow the venders carts. The city can simply pass legislation that clearly defines what it will and will not allow and I hope they vote for the vendors. I also think the carts should be removed on a daily basis.

       —abc    Mar. 19 '08 - 05:34PM    #
  19. I believe an additional consideration is whether the Secrtary of State requires the putative vendor carts to be registered under the Michigan Motor Vehicle Act as a vehicle. Semi-trailers and other hauled containers and machines require some sort of government registration.

       —Mark Koroi    Mar. 19 '08 - 10:24PM    #
  20. The next time I get pulled over because a cop has a problem with the way I’m operating my vehicle—

    I’m going to quickly throw it in neutral, jump out, and push it off the road.

    Then I’m going to answer the officer, “Vehicle? . . What vehicle?”

    And then I’m going to call you, David.

       —Michael Schils    Mar. 20 '08 - 04:54PM    #
  21. David C was wrong in dismissing my comments. While the ordinance is at issue here, the reason it is at issue is that all the vendor carts are built upon the chasis of highway and/or street legal trailers, hence as david said, the rule is

    ““Vehicle” means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway”

    as those carts are highway legal, they can’t be parked on the sidewalk. Those who are trying to get around the new enforcment of the law are looking at options such as having a totaly human powered cart that is then transported in a trailer to and from downtown.

    Sorry David, the ‘deal’ is affected by the ordinance as you say, but my conclusion isn’t wrong.

    on a side note; whats the difference between a laywer run over in the road and a snake, ...

    there are skid marks in front of the snake.

       —just a voice    Mar. 20 '08 - 09:47PM    #
  22. So it looks like business as usual for the vendors. We can only dream about walking up and ordering a steaming dog on a warm spring day….

       —LauraB    Mar. 22 '08 - 09:25AM    #
  23. The question that no one seems to be able to answer (or will answer) is why after over 15 years (at least) was this allowed, and now all of the sudden someone decides to bring to the citys attention the definition of “vehicle” as it applies to the vending owners. Why punish the vendors that follow the county health department code, have the required commissary, pay their required licenses to the city and county, and conduct business in a professional manner? Enforce the exisiting rules to eliminate the vendors who are in non compliance. It seems simple.

       —Confused person    May. 16 '08 - 11:52PM    #
  24. Right on !!

       —Mark Koroi    May. 17 '08 - 02:56AM    #
  25. The whole flap over the vendors was caused by one council member, Stephen Kunselman, who’s actions say he has it in for them.

       —LauraB    May. 18 '08 - 07:18PM    #
  26. What is the current legal status of the hot dog vendors? Has council done anything further recently?

       —Kerry D.    May. 19 '08 - 06:13AM    #
  27. According to the minutes of March 17, the council passed a resolution directing the City Administrator to “provide a report and recommendations on revisions to policies, fee structures, and ordinances necessary to create a sidewalk vendor program that is enforceable and works for the betterment of the community by [April 21, 2008] MAY 5, 2008.” But I don’t find anything of that nature in agendas either of the May 5 meeting or tonight’s meeting. The Legistar file shows no new activity beyond March 17.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    May. 19 '08 - 05:04PM    #
  28. Anything new on the status of the hot dog vendors?

       —Kerry D.    Jun. 16 '08 - 02:40AM    #
  29. Anything new on the status of the hot dog vendors?
    All vendor leases should be extended through September 8 “due to the complexity of this matter and implications on current operations and
    activities associated with vending operations in the City, additional time is needed in order to prepare an appropriate recommendation.” City Council will vote on this tomorrow, but I can’t imagine they would not extend the leases.

       —Juliew    Jun. 16 '08 - 03:32AM    #
  30. Re Post #25: It appears there is a powerful hot dog vendor lobby in Ann Arbor that got Kunselman defeated in a landslide.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 19 '08 - 07:43AM    #
  31. Re Post #29: Anything new on the status of the hot dog vendors now that September 8th is around the corner?

       —Kerry D.    Aug. 29 '08 - 04:21AM    #
  32. Re Post #25: Hot dog vendors beware!

    Steve “Chicken Man” Kunselman is attempting to make a political comeback by running against Council person Leigh Greden in the Third Ward.

    He is reportedly seeking the endorsement of that famous Rhode Island Red, Bercilla.

       —John Dory    Apr. 26 '09 - 08:45PM    #
  33. Kunselman actually says the backyard chicken law was one of his biggest acomplishments while on council. Lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Apr. 28 '09 - 10:46PM    #
  34. Anyone know the current status of the hot dog vendors?

       —Junior    May. 30 '09 - 11:53PM    #
  35. it is “that time of year” again … redux?

       —toasty    Jun. 2 '09 - 09:11AM    #
  36. What is going on with the hot dog vendors?

    I would note their primary “opponents” are restaurant owners who see them as an economic threat.

       —John Dory    Jun. 20 '09 - 10:01PM    #