Editorial: City harasses harmless vendor
A comic obituary lamenting the death of common sense became a popular Internet forward a couple of years ago.
The actions of the City of Prescott that threaten the livelihood of popular hotdog vendor Pat Gregory clearly must have happened after that demise.
For the past six years, Gregory has been serving up popular "tube steaks" from a portable cart set up under a temporary canopy at the Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber Company store downtown.
It seemed to work just fine. No one we know of has suffered any ill consequences from Gregory's food.
But enter another vendor who tried to set up business at Goodwin and Montezuma in the parking lot of a former car rental agency.
The ever-diligent minions of the code enforcement department rushed to their books and determined that although city ordinances allow businesses like Gregory's cart to operate as "ancillary" uses to existing businesses but they must work under the "overhang" of the business.
Gregory's freestanding canopy violated the code, city officials said, so when the new vendor who became the target of the heroes with clipboards brought it up, focus turned to Gregory who quietly had been earning a living and serving the public for six years.
City officials said they hadn't enforced the code against Gregory until the new vendor complained because no one had brought it up before. Those city officials now say triumphantly that both businesses now comply with the law. But Gregory says that operating without a canopy near the front door of Foxworth-Galbraith is not a great deal, especially in light of recent weather.
Prescott's assistant community development director, George Worley, said city staff is sending a proposal to the city's Unified Development Code Committee to allow mobile vendors to operate alongside existing businesses as long as the principal use is compatible.
A Pulitzer-Prize-winning newspaper publisher once said, "It's important to follow policies, but it's not a good idea to follow them out a third-story window."
Apparently someone at City Hall is just figuring that out. Let's hope Pat Gregory gets out of the rain soon. In the meantime advocates of common sense in government should drop by and savor one of his hot dogs.