City Desk

Breaking: Judge Rules Against Vendors

The on-going battle over vending operations around Nationals Park took a step toward a resolution this afternoon. A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled against three vendors seeking to halt the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' current practice of assigning vendors to sites outside the stadium via a lottery.

Judge Brook Hedge denied the vendors' motion for a preliminary injunction against DCRA.

The vendors had serious gripes against the city agency for a number of reasons–some of which were sketched out in the motion, some were not. The city took too long in formulating a system for assigning vendor sites at Nationals Park, they say. After emergency legislation was passed for some 40 possible locations, DCRA awarded only 28 locations–and all the locations were north of M Street. Most of the sites would be lucky to get a handful of Nats fans let alone make any real profit. You can see the 28 locations with this handy map.

Another 14 sites had been awarded in a lottery last week. Those sites were closer to Nationals Park. Another lottery is scheduled for today.

Update 5:19 p.m.: The vendors had argued before the court that DCRA should not have held the lottery–that the D.C. Police Department should be in charge. There also needed to be more back-and-forth over the lottery process itself.

Judge Hedge wrote in her opinion: "Plaintiffs' claims rest on shaky ground. Contrary to plaintiffs' arguments, on April 23, 2008, the Mayor did issue a delegation of authority for the vending site and vending selections at Nationals Park to the Director of the DCRA...The proposed regulations do not require that non-R.F.K. Stadium-vendor-applicants be licensed prior to entry into the lottery." The Judge went on to write that the vendors weren't losing that much money since working the Nationals Park was only a part-time job. And that the vendors' gripes were minor.

Judge Hedge wrote: "It is evident from the legislative history discussed above that this was a fast-moving situation and that, in order to maintain peace and tranquility, given the prior events which led to the vendor moratorium, and that the City Council expected vendor sites to be allocated for the full baseball season, that emergency regulations were necessary..."

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