July 29, 2020 | Press Release

Councilmember Nadeau and Colleagues Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Street Vending

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Contact: Tania Jackson, tjackson@dccouncil.us, (202) 262-9635


WASHINGTON – Following years of negative encounters between street vendors and police, Nadeau, along with Councilmembers Charles Allen, Brandon Todd, Robert White, Anita Bonds, David Grosso, and Mary Cheh introduced legislation today to decriminalize street vending without a license in the District of Columbia. Unlicensed vending would remain a civil infraction, enforced by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). 

“These vendors have been trying to cut through red tape to become licensed for years,” said Nadeau. “While we on the Council continue efforts to simplify that process, interactions between vendors and police are escalating. The vendors share their culture and food with us, and I want to keep them in our communities and keep them safe. During the pandemic and recovery, we should especially ensure that they are able to maintain their traditional source of income.” Many of the street vendors are excluded from government relief funds and belong to communities that have been some of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in the District.

Nadeau has worked together with Vendadores Unidos to develop a program for training and grants for street vendors to meet standards set out by the Department of Health and DCRA. A moratorium on vending licenses in certain areas, including Columbia Heights, will also need to be lifted. Nadeau expects additional legislation will be needed to fully address the challenges facing street vendors, many of whom sell food and artisan goods in small volume on commercial corridors in Ward 1. During the public health emergency, they also have been providing hand sanitizer and handmade masks to the community. 

"Street vendors have been enduring capricious and abusive policing for too long,” said Megan Macaraeg, an Organizer with Many Languages One Voice. “We're glad Councilmember Nadeau and the DC Council are taking steps to remove MPD from the business of enforcing DC code pertaining to street vending. Perhaps vendors can work in peace to feed their children and families, without the constant anxiety of police harassment."

Nadeau is expecting the legislation will receive a hearing this year, based on discussions with Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Allen.