Home > Chatter, Cultural Movement, Design the Details, Economics, Grand Visioning, Health, Parks and Recreation > Two requests for input from TC’s clerk’s office

Two requests for input from TC’s clerk’s office

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The City of Traverse City has two City Commissioner ad hoc committees seeking public comment on two issues previously raised on MyWHaT: Street vending and permitting for use of public parks.  Citizen input is requested by October 8th.

#1: Street Vending

The first, street vending, or what the City files under Transient Merchants. General comments about your level of support for street vending and what might be considered for an ordinance can be sent to the clerk’s office at: tcclerk@traversecitymi.gov 

The next meeting for this ad hoc group is October 15 at 10:30am.

Click 4 Video

Currently, street vending is not allowed on public spaces. There is a permit fee that is seasonally adjusted and beginning next year will be at most $100/day to operate on private property within the Downtown District. Outside of the DDA, summer rates will be $50/day beginning next spring. The current transient merchant ordinance has been posted on the MyWHaT Scribd account for review.

You might also appreciate perusing Streets of Dreams (PDF), published by the Institute for Justice. It is a report surveying 33 cities and their approach to vending. In it they outline the five common types of regulations from outright bans to restrictions to locations and times.

The ad hoc committee, consisting of Commissioners Jim Carruthers, Mary Ann Moore, and Mike Gillman, are looking for input from vendors, businesses, and citizens on how they see a street vending culture evolving short-term and long-term.  They will use this public input to potentially craft a new city-wide ordinance.

Comments can be sent to tcclerk@traversecitymi.gov

#2 Traverse City parks and public land use

Back in early summer, another ad hoc committee of City Commissioners was formed to review park use policies for all parks (RE), but with a focus on the Open Space/Clinch Park area.  There have been a few meetings over the summer and the committee tasked the City Attorney and Clerk’s office to draft a policy based of their own research and those summer discussions. A reviewable draft is now available here and below and before it gets passed out of committee, the City is looking for input, again by October 8th. This policy addresses not only big events, but smaller events as well.

Comments and suggestions can be sent to the City Clerk’s Office at 231-922-4480 or at tcclerk@traversecitymi.gov.


As you are working out what you think about either one of these policy endeavors, what are the questions that remain?

What direction do you think the City needs to take? 

Introduction and draft policy


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  1. September 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Hi Gary, Thanks so much for this. This is a very helpful thing for me. We don’t all have time to be up on what is going on with important City committee’s, and so to have someone that brings this kind of thing to the attention of the community is so important. Great job!

    I have already emailed Tim Werner and Russ Soyring about the bike boxes, and I will send some comments on these issues to the TC Clerk as soon as I get a chance.

    In general, I think we should have MORE not less going on at the Open Space and in other parks (think Grant Park in Chicago).

    As for vendors, I need to think a bit more about this. I will look at your links. I like the idea of food vendors, but frankly, the people selling knock-off sunglasses from China irritate me. I don’t want our sidewalks full of trinket sellers. How can we encourage goods that are worthy of our sidewalks, while keeping out the junk? And who gets to decide what is worthy? And what about the store owners who pay top price to be on Front St.? Is it fair to them?

  2. T. Werner
    September 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

    The “Two Requests” intersect in my mind. The rates charged for street vending on private property should not be greater than the rates charged for Cherry Festival food vendors on our public park land. If the rate is really $100 per day for a food cart on private property, maybe the rate for each and every food vendor at the Cherry Festival should be $200 per day?

    Certainly that won’t fly with the almighty Cherry Festival, so how about working it backwards? During the Cherry Festival, what is the average rate per food vendor per day paid to the City? Cut that in half, and that’s a fair rate to charge food carts that are on private property.

  3. Me
    September 19, 2012 at 10:43 am

    The market will decide what’s worthy. If they don’t have paying customers, they won’t be around long. If you don’t like what they’re selling, don’t buy it!

  4. Me
    September 19, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Why should the city get a fee at all for what’s happening on private property?

  5. September 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    So the city wants a “tax” on private property owners that are conducting business on their private property? Interesting. This will not fly. City would have to make it a zoning issue and change all written zoning for such districts that allow such things. City unfairly taxing private land owners. What will Estes and crew think of next?

  6. September 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    The permitting for peddlers, now transient merchants, has been in effect for 20-30 years at a rate of $50/day (summer months) and was recently revisited and raised as stated above. The question now is to determine if that rate is consistent with desires of the public to possibly encourage more street vending, typically associated with food. Also to be considered is if transient merchants might be allowed to use public spaces like parking lots and parks, and if so, under what regulations.

    Actually, as has been pointed out before, under the City’s current policy property owners, and apparently businesses that rent from them and operate out of a building, are exempt from the transient merchant permit fee if they so choose to operate a cart. If they don’t have room on their own property, a business located downtown may set up on another private property parcel and pay no fee to the City, but may have to pay rent.

    At least that is how I read it.

    Note on a previous comment, the City makes nothing off of the vending that takes place under the auspice of the Cherry Festival regardless of where it takes place. So, half of zero….

  7. T. Werner
    September 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I did not flesh out my previous comment, and I apologize for that. It was with the full understanding that half of zero is zero that I typed the previous comment.

    Lack of consistency on the part of TC is what I was trying to point out. If we as a city charge zero/nothing for Cherry Festival vendors on public property, we should charge nothing for food carts on private property. If we charge food carts on private property, we should charge more for Cherry festival vendors on public property.

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