New Orleans Cracks Down on Small Businesses
Fresh off a decisive re-election victory, New Orleans Mayor, LaToya Cantrell has decided to begin “coordinated sweeps” to crack down on unregistered food vendors operating pop-up venues across the city. The city is attempting to generate tax revenue by cracking down on these entrepreneurs. New Orleans has misdiagnosed the problem and failed to realize that their overburdensome requirements on these startup businesses is why many of them decide to not go through the permitting process.
Unregistered pop-ups aren’t sinister criminals trading in illicit goods. They are simply people trying to use their skills to start a business and serve their communities and the tourists that drive our economy. It’s important to recognize this fact. Few would benefit from forcing these vendors off the streets.
Likewise, by discouraging entrepreneurship in the city, the goal of generating more tax revenue through this crack down on unregistered street vendors will likely fail. If these locals can’t generate income, they can’t pay sales or property taxes either. Furthermore, the city incurs additional cost by dedicating more enforcement resources to harmless vendors instead of violent criminals. There’s simply no clear benefit to the city’s finances or quality of life for adopting such an aggressive stance on pop-up vendors.
This problem is in large part due to the overburdensome requirements to be able to legally operate a pop up. Many new entrepreneurs use pop ups as a way to test their product or generate start up money to be able to become a full fledged business, but New Orleans stops this entrepreneurship in its tracks by making the permitting process too high of a hurdle to overcome.
“According to FPAC, to legally operate a food pop-up in Orleans Parish, you need a $50 yearly general occupational license from the city, a $50 revenue certificate from the Department of Revenue, either a special event promoter permit which can range from $250 to $750 or a $50 yearly special event vendor permit, a $305.25 mobile vending permit and a $37.50 temporary food service establishment permit from the state health department,” the New Orleans Gambit reported.
Brand new entrepreneurs have to get five permits from three different government offices that will cost between $492.75 and $1,192.75 and that’s just to have your first event. This also doesn’t take into consideration how long these permitting processes can take due to government bureaucracy.
The City of New Orleans should seek to simplify, streamline and reduce fees to encourage compliance, instead of cracking down on people just trying to start a business. The existence of a black market for legal goods is evidence enough of overly burdensome regulations. Attacking Lousianans doing their best to provide for their families is never a good plan. Instead of stopping pop up vendors, the City of New Orleans should put a stop to its government-induced roadblocks to opportunity and lower costs for all area businesses.