January 31, 2023 | Press Release

Chairman Mendelson & Councilmember Brianne Nadeau  
Re-Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Street Vending 


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau, Ward 1, and Chairman Phil Mendelson re-introduced the Street Vendor Advancement Amendment Act of 2023, to accelerate the decriminalization of street vending and make it easier for street vendors to run a successful business in the District.  
The legislation, which was announced Tuesday morning in a Columbia Heights press event with dozens of street vendors, consolidates two bills Nadeau introduced in the previous legislative session. If passed, D.C. would become the third major city in the U.S. to reform its vendor licensing regulations, following New York City and Los Angeles. 
“Street vendors contribute to the vibrant atmosphere of Columbia Heights, to the local economy, and to supporting themselves and their families,” Nadeau said. “We’re removing barriers to licensed street vending. I’m thrilled that we now have the support of the Council Chairman to move this forward and finally allow people to operate without barriers and without fear.” 
“It is not the right public policy to have regulations so onerous and burdensome that ordinary people – many of whom are immigrants and people of color – cannot enter this line of work and make a living,” said Mendelson. 
The legislation would formalize the vending of food and artisanal goods as a local industry and as a part of D.C.’s rich culture, overhaul and streamline the complex and costly business licensing system currently in place, one that is not well aligned to the nature of street vending businesses. And it would remove police from enforcing vending rules, a source of tension and fear for vendors.  
Mendelson and Nadeau worked closely with Vendadores Unidos/Vendors United and the Beloved Community Incubator, which organized Tuesday’s event. 
"This is the big change we’ve been waiting for! I went to see Señor Mendelson in his office in December. I'm so proud of my community and grateful he is taking real action," says Eloisa Diaz, a street vendor who moved here from Venezuela. 
The legislation also addresses public safety through a racial justice lens, removing violations of street vending from criminal penalties. Instead, enforcement would be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. 
“There's no need for police to be involved when someone is vending without a license,” Nadeau said. “It is not a public safety issue and our response should not be to send armed police officers to enforce these regulations. Sidewalk vendors promote safety by being a regular presence and eyes on the street. They in turn should feel safe in their own community.”