NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After speaking out for party vehicle regulation, Mayor John Cooper is now asking for the removal of street vendors in downtown Nashville.
Cooper wrote a letter to the Metro Traffic and Parking Commission, calling street vendors a "blight for pedestrians." He also addressed commissioners at their meeting on Monday afternoon. He called for a complete prohibition of vendors on the sidewalks between Union Street and Korean Veterans Boulevard, spanning from the Cumberland River to 8th Avenue. He said as foot traffic has increased in the downtown area, so has the number of vendors.
“We have reached a point where sidewalk vending has become a net negative for quality of life and the business landscape in Nashville. We are working on multiple fronts to make Nashville a cleaner and safer city, and I need your help to clean up street vending," Cooper wrote.
Cooper said the letter comes after he said he talked to businesses, residents and visitors in the downtown corridor.
"I have heard repeated complaints about the disruptive effect that vendors have on their businesses, Cooper wrote. "Our public safety professionals have warned about the safety risks posed by multiple propane tanks, generators, and the selling of intoxicants. Residents and visitors alike have decried the sale of items that are less than family friendly."
Cooper also encouraged the commission to consider enhanced penalties for vendors that don't comply with the ordinance.
He also would like to see the zone of prohibition extended to other parts of town, like Midtown, the Gulch, 12th South, Wedgewood-Houston, East Nashville or Germantown.
Several downtown business owners also attended the Metro Traffic and Parking Commission meeting and said there need to be more uniform regulations for vendors that can be easily enforced by police.
Chase Howard has been set up at the corner of Rep. John Lewis Way and Broadway for the last year. His company, Sageway Wellness, sells CBD products. He said before opening up shop, the company got all the required licenses, permits and insurance needed to operate in downtown.
"Being near Broadway just allows us to hit the target demographic, which is tourism," said Howard. "I came to this area because it has 8 feet of passable space, and follows all the rules and parameters they require us to follow."
Howard said vendors have become a part of the downtown landscape, and it would be unfortunate if they were forced to leave entirely.
"I think there is an easier way to go about it than removing vending entirely or making it to a point where its too inconvenient for it to be profitable," said Howard.
The Metro Traffic and Parking Commission may discuss Mayor Cooper's proposed regulations in July.