Thursday, August 6, 2009

A license to enjoy your childhood

No, you will not open your own roadside lemonade stand, not without a license. When they're not kissing babies, they're stealing their lollipops.

    Fresno Bee -

    Eight-year-old Daniela Earnest has made lemonade out of lemons in more ways than one this week.

    Hoping to raise money for a family trip to Disneyland, the Tulare girl opened a lemonade stand Monday. But because Daniela didn't have a business license, the city of Tulare shut it down the same day.

    From that came a radio station's offer of Disneyland tickets to Daniela's family — in exchange for 30 cups of lemonade — and an appearance in front of the Tulare City Council on Tuesday night that will likely lead to a compromise allowing her lemonade stand and other pint-sized business ventures to operate legally.

    The story began Monday morning when Daniela and her stepmother, Marisa Earnest, set up shop at Cartmill Avenue and Hillman Street in north Tulare. The lemonade was freshly squeezed and priced at $2 for a 32-ounce plastic cup.

    Richard Garcia, a Tulare code enforcement officer, happened to be at the same intersection to remove illegal signs left behind by someone selling tetherball poles.

    Garcia told Daniela and her stepmother that their lemonade stand — on the northwest corner of the busy intersection — was not safe, and also that they needed a business license to sell lemonade.

    He helped the pair load their ice chest and equipment into their car and then called city planners to find out where they could relocate.

    "He wasn't out there on lemonade patrol," said Frank Furtaw, Tulare's code enforcement manager. Garcia was merely applying the city's code enforcement laws equitably, Furtaw said.

    Tulare officials said they cannot recall ever shutting down a lemonade stand before this week. But it's not altogether uncommon. Authorities across the nation have done the same. And in Fresno, a Huntington Boulevard shaved ice machine run by a resident mostly so neighborhood kids could get a sno-cone on hot days was shut down by a Fresno code enforcer in June 2008.

    Ed Earnest, Daniela's father, said Garcia got "a bad rap" from critics about his enforcement actions. "He was just doing his job," Earnest said.
    Vice Mayor Philip Vandegrift said a compromise -- possibly asking lemonade stand operators to pay a nominal fee or establishing a license fee waiver for children under a certain age -- could be the outcome of Daniela's experience.

    However, the city needs to enforce vendor laws, Vandegrift said, "otherwise we'll have people on every corner."

Hey, that's just the way it is in a free country.