As Carnival season cranks into full gear, vendors on Bourbon Street are being threatened with jail time for operating without a license — the latest tactic in an effort by Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration to crack down on unpermitted street activities on the city’s main tourist drag.
Municipal Court judges are issuing orders to unpermitted vendors instructing them to keep their wares — from shots to marijuana products to trinkets — out of the French Quarter, or face up to five months in jail.
The judges have issued the orders at the request of the City Attorney’s Office, according to the mayor’s spokesperson John Lawson.
Municipal Court officials did not respond to a question about how many vendors had received the orders. But one Bourbon Street vendor was arrested in mid-January with violating a stay-away order in connection with his “pull-up bar” business, according to the New Orleans Police Department.
The threat of jail time is an escalation in a spiraling confrontation between unlicensed vendors — who see a freewheeling sales culture as a much needed economic opportunity — and business owners, residents and officials who say the vendors make the tourist strip less appealing and are unfair competition to retailers playing by the rules.
A high profile law-enforcement sweep in early October by officials from several…