Nashville mayor asks for street vendors to be prohibited in downtown area

Nashville Mayor John Cooper delivers the State of Metro speech. (Photo: Michael W. Bunch/Metro...
Nashville Mayor John Cooper delivers the State of Metro speech. (Photo: Michael W. Bunch/Metro Photographer)(Michael W. Bunch/Metro Photographer)
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 5:24 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Nashville Mayor John Cooper has asked the Metro Traffic and Parking Commission to extend the zone where sidewalk vendors are prohibited, according to a letter the mayor read at Monday’s meeting.

“We have reached a point where sidewalk vending has become a net negative for quality of life and the business landscape in Nashville,” Cooper said. “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 told the commission that as foot traffic has grown in Nashville, so has the number of sidewalk vendors.

“Vending has gone from being a marginal convenience to passersby to a substantial blight for both pedestrians and brick-and mortar businesses,” Cooper said.

“Sidewalk vendors use public right-of-way to operate their private businesses. Our city’s right-of-way is a precious resource; our downtown sidewalks are used by tens of thousands of people every day. The proliferation of sidewalk vending stands has clogged up our sidewalks, impeding movement of pedestrians.”

Cooper is requesting a prohibition of street vending between Union Street and Korean Veterans Boulevard, spanning from the Cumberland River to Eighth Avenue. He’s also requesting enhanced penalties for noncompliance.

“I urge you to extend the zone in which sidewalk vending is prohibited, as well as eliminate the exceptions where vending is currently allowed within that zone,” Cooper said. “Our police need clear and straightforward regulations to enforce.”

He also encouraged the commission to consider a limited carveout in the new regulations to grant exceptions to nonprofit entities on a case-by-case basis.

“As we take action to clean up downtown, I would also encourage this body to think beyond the boundaries I have spelled out. As our foot traffic expands to other neighborhoods, so too will sidewalk vending,” Cooper said. “We need a strategy for addressing this concern before it becomes a detriment to neighborhoods like Midtown, the Gulch, 12th South, Wedgewood-Houston, East Nashville or Germantown.”

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