ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - For years, the city of St. Augustine has grappled with how to regulate outdoor vendors who sell everything from artwork to sunglasses.
Now, city commissioners are considering a new ordinance that would place more restrictions on vendors in their latest location.
That spot is between the city's parking garage and St. George Street.
The proposed ordinance says this activity does not match the ambiance the city wants for that location.
Just across the way, Bruce Lobona owns The Black Parrot Candy Shoppe on the corner of Orange Street and St. George Street.
"I think this is a wonderful town," he smiled.
However, he doesn't think it's wonderful that the city of St. Augustine allows outdoor vendors conduct sales just about 100 yards away from his shop -- with little regulation.
Lobona and other business owners who work in buildings have to follow certain rules.
"We have a business license. We pay taxes, we have liability insurance. We had to adhere to all the signage laws," Lobona noted. "I think [outdoor vendors] should have to adhere to the same laws."
The proposed city ordinance would require a vendor to have a permit, a limited number of permits would be distributed every year, and the vendors would have to get liability insurance policies. The new law would also create a vendor area on the other side of the parking garage, the north side, which is further away from St. George Street.
Many of the vendors are not happy about the ordinance proposal.
Kay Lindstrom sets up her tables a couple days a week by many other outdoor vendors. She sells jewelry that she designs.
"I'm very unhappy. We all do very well here," she said. "This is a prime location."
Lindstrom doesn't know if she can afford the insurance, and she says outdoor artisans are part of St. Augustine.
"Oh yeah, people come for this, just like they come for St. George Street," Lindstrom said.
The outdoor vendors are very close to the Visitor Information Center which currently houses a Picasso exhibit.
Ron Brown is the St. Augustine City Attorney and said, "We've received some criticism that [the vendor area] is unsightly, that is doesn't have the right appeal for the area."
Brown said business owners as well as vendors have asked the city to help regulate the area. He said the vendors wanted help because it's a competitive location and they want a chance to set up their tables there.
Brown also said there are safety concerns such as pedestrians who are forced to walk in the street around the vendors.
Many vendors dislike the ordinance. Lindstrom said, "It takes away from the fun of St. Augustine."
However, businessmen like Lobona support the ordinance. "It brings some organization and consistency to what now appears to be a bizarre."
The city will take up the issue again at a workshop on April 8th.