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Police Keep Licensed Peddlers Moving on 18th Street

Pilsen peddlers say business complaints to police have stopped them from selling on 18th Street.

Anastacia Cortez, a licensed peddler for 15 years, said Chicago Police Officers have told her to move numerous times while selling on 18th Street.

The cops tell me that my post is mobile, and I have to keep moving, so I leave,” Cortez said.

Cortez said she later is informed that the police asked her to move due to businesses complaining about her presence.

“I find out someone from a local business calls the police.” said Cortez, “I don’t know why they don’t have the courage to tell me personally to move instead of calling the cops.”

Cortez said even after asking for permission first, some businesses just don’t want her there at all.

“That’s why I don’t really sell on 18 street,” Cortez said.

Peddlers must keep moving, according to Chicago Law. Police in Pilsen have started enforcing the rules after some businesses complained about peddlers staying in one spot all day.

Western Union, located on 1825 S. Blue Island Avenue, is one of the businesses who gave Cortez permission to sell near the business as long as she keeps her area clean.

“I’m usually here from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” said Cortez. “When I leave, I try not leave garbage, and I clean the sidewalk, so they won’t tell me anything.”

Nancy Zetenia, age 36, a Pilsen resident said some peddlers don’t pick up after themselves and could imagine businesses asking peddlers to move for that reason.

Aladino Santiago, a 10 district Chicago Police Officer, said licensed peddlers can sell anywhere they want as long as they keep moving,  He said it had really started to become a problem three years ago.

“Last year it was a big issue,” said Santiago. “Because it was just getting so out of control, but it settled down big time.”

Santiago said it’s important for peddlers to know what the regulations are in order to avoid getting any citations from the police. He said it’s uncommon for businesses to call the police, if peddlers are posted for only 10 to 15 minutes or even up to half a day.

“If peddlers are selling at the same spot every day, then businesses will call the police,” Santiago said.

Maria Carmen Gallardo, an unlicensed peddler, has been ticketed twice, once for selling popsicles and another time for selling tamales.  Gallardo doesn’t sell on 18th Street to avoid the Police, she said.

“It’s unfair for the vendors that aren’t informed well enough about the regulations,” Gallardo said.

Santiago said police usually give three to four warnings before issuing a citation and confiscating equipment. He said the peddler regulations are enforced for the public’s safety and “not because we didn’t want peddlers to sell, or because they are taking away all the business.”

Residents said the peddlers on 18th street have disappeared.

“I haven’t really seen any peddlers on 18 Street,” Zetenia said. “Compared to a few years back, I think there are less people selling around Pilsen now.”

Maria Valdez,34, a Pilsen resident, said she thinks there should be more peddlers on 18th  Street.

“It’s hard to find a vendor on 18th Street,” said Valdez. “I noticed they are mostly around the parks.”

Martina Romano, 52,who has been peddling for 12 years, said she has had no problem selling at Harrison Park, located on 1824 South Wood Street.

“The cops haven’t asked me to move from my post,” Romano said.

Santiago said it’s less likely peddlers will be asked to move if they are posted in a park because there isn’t businesses that would call and complain.

“They can be asked to move if the cart is big and it’s blocking the walk way,” Santiago said. “If the cops really wanted to be jerks then they could ask them to leave.”

A Pilsen resident, Miguel Garcia, said he rather not see peddlers in parks because they may block the walk way.

“I think it’s good that they aren’t on 18Street,” Garcia said, taking a break from a run on the Harrison park trail. “It leaves a clear path for pedestrians to walk.”

Yajayra Rodriguez, 17, a Pilsen resident, said she wishes peddlers were more conveniently on 18th  Street like the ones on 26th  Street.

Cortez said even though she hasn’t been making much profit, after the cost of ingredients, paying taxes and fees for her peddling license, she plans to continue selling.

“I hope the rules improve for vendors,” Cortez said. “From what I sell, I have to eat, I’ll come out and sell, even for 20 dollars that I’ll do for a day, because I feel bad about not having even those 20 dollars for my food.”

Santiago said there are all kinds of issues going on with peddlers.
“We have gotten complaints from businesses about peddlers all over Chicago,” He said.

A Pilsen resident, Alberto Lopez, understands why peddlers keep on peddling around Chicago.

Peddlers have to keep on fighting and find a way to make money during these hard times,” he said.


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