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Augusta First Friday will crack down on illegal vendors

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 8:41 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012 1:51 AM
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Organizers can’t close downtown when the official First Friday event ends, but they can eliminate the “attractive nuisance” of illegal street vendors and remind visitors when the family friendly-event is over, an Augusta panel said Wednesday.

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City Administrator Fred Russell meets with a panel to address issues about First Friday.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
City Administrator Fred Russell meets with a panel to address issues about First Friday.


The panel, assembled by City Administrator Fred Russell after six people were shot on Broad Street the night of the July First Friday, focused much of the discussion Wednesday on illegal vendors. Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said those vendors helped create a “flea market” atmosphere that took up law enforcement resources.

Brenda Durant, the executive director of the Greater Augusta Arts Council, maintained that the arts council is the “coordinating agency” for the event, which ends at 9:30 p.m. The group has issued permits to vendors and acts for several years, but after the July 6 shooting, Sheriff Ronnie Strength and some Augusta Commission members complained that having no group in charge was part of First Friday’s problems.

Under a tweaked system, permitted vendors will have special passes that change design each month. Store, gallery and restaurant owners who open on First Friday are responsible for ensuring any vendors that set up in front of their businesses have permits, Durant said.

“If you walk by a store that’s closed, (vendors) are not legal,” she said. “You can’t give permission to someone to be outside if you’re closed.”

That means that, after 9:30 p.m., the only food sold downtown, except for two hot dog stands with special permits, will be inside restaurants. The only merchandise sold will be inside stores, if they remain open.

With sweeps of illegal vendors made by Augusta’s licensing department and encouragement at 9:30 p.m. from the sheriff’s office, the vendor street presence should be gone by 10 p.m., Russell said.

“Take whoever is not to your place,” Russell told Gay.

The defined timeline will discourage the “creep” between the family event and downtown adult nightlife, which Russell said was “welcome in bars, welcome in restaurants,” but “not welcome to loiter.”

“The perception is that First Friday lasts until 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.,” Gay said. “Even though we’ve shown statistically that Broad Street is relatively safe, it’s not a place to drop children off.”

Russell urged involvement by the Down­town Advisory Panel, an offshoot of the Downtown Development Authority and its precursor, Main Street Augusta, which once sponsored First Friday. The advisory panel held a meeting last week that attracted 100 people, said representative Mike Walraven, of Schweitzer Art Glass Studio.

Jennifer Bowen, of Au­gusta Convention and Visit­ors Bureau, said First Friday was “a very important event for us” but urged the 9:30 p.m. end to be implemented in a “sensitive” manner.

Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the development authority, agreed with Gay’s suggestion that the Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative, a private custodial and hospitality service paid for with a special downtown tax, work late on First Fridays.

Gay said despite the open-container ordinance, trash such as bottles left lying around creates a safety hazard.

First Friday festivities will continue Aug. 3 with a family-friendly event on Augusta Common and a ticketed concert at Jessye Norman Amphitheater, said the city’s special events manager, Yolanda Greenwood.

The panel will meet again Aug. 1 to coordinate the August First Friday event.

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hipster.ab
4
Points
hipster.ab 07/25/12 - 09:07 pm
2
0
permits

how could I get a permit for vending at September's first Friday?

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/25/12 - 09:10 pm
11
2
Ummmm- this is the FF fix?

...precisely how many of these illegal vendors fired shots at the crowd? What a moronic response.

(With due apologies to morons.)

specsta
6592
Points
specsta 07/25/12 - 09:37 pm
11
1
The Real Menace - Illegal Vendors (Thugs Are OK)

"Take whoever is not to your place,” Russell told Gay. ---

So Russell wants the police to arrest folks for...illegal vending??? That will definitely send the right message to the thugs.

I guess we can look forward to teargas, rubber bullets and beanbags being shot into the crowds of innocent people, to shut down First Friday at 9:30pm on the dot. It worked in Anaheim (not) so why not here? If the city's solution is to manhandle citizens, who had nothing to do with the FF shootings, it would be ridiculous - and illegal.

Sean Moores
717
Points
Sean Moores 07/25/12 - 09:43 pm
5
0
@ hipster

This Greater Augusta Arts Council link has some information and a phone number to call.
http://www.augustaarts.com/firstfriday.htm

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 07/25/12 - 09:49 pm
8
0
I think I understand where

I think I understand where their going with this, but the main group that obviously wasn't invited to the meeting is Juvenile Court. Until a solution is found pertaining to these thug kids hanging on the sidewalks the problem will remain. Find a way to send their little bad butts home where they belong.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 07/26/12 - 04:03 am
11
0
BREAKING NEWS: Mobs of

BREAKING NEWS: Mobs of t-shirt, corn dog, and funnel cake vendors terrorize city at Broad and Seventh Streets. Police call out SWAT and recall all officers from time off. In other news: Ten people were robbed at Broad and Twelfth Streets.

my.voice
4924
Points
my.voice 07/26/12 - 06:05 am
11
0
Careful

You have to be careful with those evil, bloodthirsty vendors selling kewpie dolls and those whirling ligh sticks. Just pure evil. But nothing gets past Russell.

BamaMan
2522
Points
BamaMan 07/26/12 - 06:51 am
11
0
Call me...

...stupid, but I doubt very seriously the trouble-makers are spending a single penny on vendors; they're just lurking and looking for trouble for the most part.They move in packs and push right through like they own the place. I don't feel safe in broad daylight on FF, which is why we stopped going years ago, and we were among the money spenders.

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 07/26/12 - 07:12 am
6
0
I think they are assuming

I think they are assuming that if they close the vendors down at 9:30 then everyone who is not a thug will hopefully go home. If people still feel the event is going on then they will linger. Most families with common sense and young kids would not be down there past dark anyway but the younger set will stay until later. I think the whole thing has lost it's original charm.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 07/26/12 - 07:41 am
4
1
lawsuit
Unpublished

I see a lawsuit from the ACLU coming soon to the Richmond County Sheriff's Dept.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 07/26/12 - 08:04 am
0
1
lets see we have a mob of
Unpublished

lets see we have a mob of project, government housing, welfare "wannabe thugs" shooting downtown, "pray-tell how do we get rid of them???"...eureka!!!! arrest all illegal vendors because those project kids must be using thier EBT/snap cards to purchase merchandise and food...yeah..yeah that's the answer "arrest the illegal vendors"....folks this is a perfect example to our local government and their absolute lunacy when it comes to fighting crime, you have a sheriff who has the mayberry RFD mentality with centralized policing (as opposed to decentralized-community policing) and a city government (including "tax-em till they bleed" fred) who believes the most effective way to stop and deter crime is the arrest illegal street vendors...like it the lure of the street vendors that draw the roaches/rats/vermin from the projects/government housing to downtown.....if we keep voting in incompetents then we will continue to benefit or suffer from incompetent laws...

bdouglas
5398
Points
bdouglas 07/26/12 - 08:20 am
7
0
Guess I'll have to get my

Guess I'll have to get my bootleg James Brown t-shirts on Craigslist now... ::sigh::

naycan
42
Points
naycan 07/26/12 - 08:20 am
5
1
What a joke

This meeting was a joke. First Friday needs a group that is going to monitor the event from begining to end and not just sign up vendors. The vendors also need to pay a fee to offset the cost of security. As I posted before, there are guidelines established which Ms. Durant approved as a member of Main Street. Also, the DDA needs more hands on as they are supported by taxpayers dollars not the DAP. Someone needs to get Ms. Woodard out of her office and down on the streets that evening.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/26/12 - 08:40 am
2
7
Glad that everybody is on

Glad that everybody is on board with trying to make a difference and not sitting back judging other folks' actions and belittling their efforts before they even get to put them in play. But I digress. If you are sincerely into making downtown different in some way, be at the Jesse Norman Amphitheatre this Friday at 6pm for a photo-shoot to be featured in the next edition of the Metro Spirit. I would say put your money where your mouth is, but it doesn't cost anything more than some gasoline and your time.

Riverman1
86978
Points
Riverman1 07/26/12 - 08:51 am
7
0
It reminds me of the invasion

It reminds me of the invasion of Grenada. The Marine barracks were blown up in Lebanon and what do we do......invade Grenada to show um.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/26/12 - 09:16 am
3
4
River, why is the street

River, why is the street vending after 10 pm such a vital part of the FF event. If FF was conceived to boost daytime business for daytime business owners, then after hours business gains are an indirect result. And that is great. I love it. But is THAT suppose to warrant changing the template?

Seems to me if something is working to create business, the first thing to do isn't reformat it. The better option is to focus on maximizing the positive effect within the scope of what is already there. That's what I believe they are trying to do by ending unregulated street vending at 10 pm. Because it would create a flea-market atmosphere and before you know it, someone is selling dubs of crack behind a t-shirt table.

Riverman1
86978
Points
Riverman1 07/26/12 - 09:51 am
4
1
David, A Couple of Points

The downtown, non-alcohol selling businesses want NO part of FF. The only ones supporting it are those who want increased business to continue to flow to their establishments. The street vendors don't support their goal. So they are squashed. If you are really serious about keeping out the bad element, shut down the bars at 9:30 too on FF. We hear this talk about not giving into the criminal element, but what are you doing by kicking out law abiding vendors?

Brad Owens
4727
Points
Brad Owens 07/26/12 - 10:01 am
5
1
The DAP and it's role

naycan,

The DAP is not set up to be in charge of the event but then again that's true but neither is the DDA. The Downtown Advisory Panel is elected from each stakeholder group downtown and is empowered to make it's recommendations directly to the commission (it doesn't answer to the DDA). Here is a list of the different groups represneted;

1. DDA representative.
2. Restaurant owner OR operator
3. Retail Merchant OR operator
4. Resident OR owner of residential property
5. Owner OR operator of an Entertainment Establishment
6. Owner or Operator of a Professional Business
7. Religious representative
8. Commercial Property owner
9. Renter or Lessees
10. Planning and Zoning
11. Augusta Tomorrow

So, as you can see, everyone affected by downtown events and issues are represented on the DAP to come up with solutions for the Commission. The DAP was created by the county commission, they are not an "offshoot" of anything and the DDA is one of 11 seats on the DAP. They have one vote and no control beyond that input (read the ordnance and you will see I am right)

Fred Russel is 100% correct that the DAP is the right group to come up with the First Friday guidelines and the last time they were modified it was the DAP that did it, not Main Street.

So I think that they are on the right track with WHO needs to be doing the policy review, the DAP, but running it is the GAAC's job, they just need to the funding being sent to the DDA for that to be redirected to the GAAC. Main Street paid the deputies to stay on the streets until 1a.m. and that money is still being sent to the DDA but spent on God knows what, trolley studies I guess?

I think the Respect Downtown initiative is the right way to handle to PR and promotions side of things, but event security is something completely different.

I volunteer my services to help do a security survey of the First Friday event and the after party, I also volunteer to help write a security plan that will limit risk to patrons of the First Friday Art event, increase safety at the after crowd event and help pay for the entire thing.

This thing needs proper planning and coordination on the security side along with the vendor organization as well.

Brad

Former member of the DAP, DDA and Main Street Augusta

Thethirdjq
214
Points
Thethirdjq 07/26/12 - 10:16 am
4
0
Cleaning it up

People of Augusta wanted First Friday to be cleaned up, and that is exactly what they are doing, within the law. You can not arrest people for walking down the street by themselves or in "thug" groups.

Increase visibility and safety while cracking down on non sanctioned vendors that could be facilitating a late night presence. Its a step in the right direction. These illegal vendors can easily apply for the proper permit and follow the rules that were established for selling items on First Friday.

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 07/26/12 - 10:24 am
1
1
Frita's Boss...

...hit the nail on the head.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 07/26/12 - 10:32 am
1
0
profile goers to first
Unpublished

profile goers to first friday........nuff said

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/26/12 - 11:00 am
2
2
kinda throw out the baby mama

kinda throw out the baby mama with the bath water right?

Scrap the event and bring on the gestapos It'll be awesome, but hey, you can bring your kids downtown at 2 am without fearing "the thugs". Mission accomplished, not.

River, if the art galleries and daytime shoppes are doing well enough and categorically don't want FF, then why all the empty storefronts? Are we dealing with a strange economic-bizzaro world where more business scares off the entrepeneurs or what? Just make it make sense.

CobaltGeorge
164708
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/26/12 - 10:53 am
2
0
Non-PC

The truth of a problem that is caused by PC can be eradicated by actions using common sense and non-PC.
Way to go Frita's Boss.

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 07/26/12 - 11:02 am
5
0
Every Time...

....I hear folks describe their selected method of solving any problem using terms like "stakeholder" and "empowerment" I know we're just wasting our time and our money and that no worthwhile solution will result.

In this case, as in many/most others, we're pursuing a solution that ignores the real problem. We've chosen to develop a bureaucratic "advisory" team and we've worked hard to include in its membership anybody and everybody who might possibly have anything to do with, or concern with, the problems associated with violence and thuggery at a public event.

Deep within our brains we know the problem is the people who are committing the crimes. But we choose NOT to deal with them, instead choosing to sit around and discuss (and fix) all the possible solutions to all the other problems.

David Parker chooses to mock the notion that the thugs are the real problem, not the vendors, by introducing such terms as "gestapo" and dismissing the solution as some kind of nonsensical, militarist idea that isn't even worth considering. There must be, therefore, some soft, squishy, feel-good solution that won't involve dealing firmly with the criminals and thugs themselves, but rather everybody else who might possibly have some minor impact on the issue.

I suggest we skip the DAP, spend that money on bicycle paths, and turn the street violence problem directly over to the United Nations.

We'll get the same results.

naycan
42
Points
naycan 07/26/12 - 11:11 am
4
0
To Brad

Brad,

I was there when the guidelines were passed and the DAP was formed. I helped write the ordiance establishing the DAP. I also know that the DDA, by law, is repsonsible for the economic development of the CBD, and that includes it's promotion. The Main Street program should have never been disbanded. I also do not believe the Arts Council is the proper group to oversee the event. You actually have to have " feet on the gound" way beyond the closing time of the event, not just signing up people. Plus the extra hire security will have a responsible group coordinating where they go and what they do during the time period they are hired. Just some thoughts.

Riverman1
86978
Points
Riverman1 07/26/12 - 11:24 am
3
0
David asked, "River, if the

David asked, "River, if the art galleries and daytime shoppes are doing well enough and categorically don't want FF, then why all the empty storefronts? Are we dealing with a strange economic-bizzaro world where more business scares off the entrepeneurs or what? Just make it make sense."

So we want to blame the empty buildings on the non-alcohol businesses that do survive downtown? We should be listening carefully to those businesses that have made it and provide galleries and stores in the daytime. They get bullet holes in their windows and loads of bad press for the area with FF.

This attitude is akin to blaming the violence on the street vendors.

Riverman1
86978
Points
Riverman1 07/26/12 - 11:31 am
3
0
Blacks and Whites Do Get Along Well Down There

To dispell the racial polarization, I'll note the observation that there are two groups of people downtown during the day. Blacks patronize the stores while whites hit the galleries, restaurants and bars. They all do fine. When night hits, the stores close and the bad element comes out, especially on FF.

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 07/26/12 - 11:31 am
4
0
Riverman Said.....

"This attitude is akin to blaming the violence on the street vendors."

Bingo.

And convincing ourselves we're solving the problem by convening several advisory panels studying the issues revolving around the development of an "action plan" and rules for vendor behavior.

Frita's Boss
180
Points
Frita's Boss 07/26/12 - 11:35 am
4
0
Common sense ain't too common

How did we ever get away from blaming the actual shooter for the shooting?

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 07/26/12 - 01:07 pm
3
0
Frita's Boss Asked...

"How did we ever get away from blaming the actual shooter for the shooting?"

Excellent question....let me add....

How did we ever get away from blaming unruly, misbehaving children on lazy, disinterested parents?

How did we ever get away from blaming people who use guns to commit crimes on the people, not the guns they use to commit them?

How did we ever get away from blaming our dependence on foreign oil on the politicians who refuse to allow the exploitation of our own natural supplies?

The list could go on and on. In issue after issue we have, as a society, chosen to ignore the real problem in favor of focusing on solutions that ignore ethics, hard work, and individual responsibility.

Where have we gone wrong? It's a subject that while complex, can be summarized in one word.

Liberalism.

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