The following is the response I sent earlier this week to Ashton Root and his daughter Madison, the Lake Oswego family who felt the young girl should not have to comply with Portland's regulations:
Thank you for your message. I hope you agree that rules should apply to everyone. As I was raising my three children, and even now that they are in their twenties, I have found things go better if the rules are clear and evenly applied.
Saturday Market is a commercial venture where people selling goods and services pay a permit fee to be part of a magnet that attracts buyers from all over the Metro region as well as tourists. It would not be reasonable to charge a vendor in the Market to sell mistletoe, while allowing anyone to sell just outside the Market area without a permit.
Portland Parks has a permit/license agreement with Saturday Market. They control who gets to sell what at the Market. Your daughter should contact Saturday Market to them about permission to sell mistletoe at the Market. Their web site is here: http://www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com. My understanding is that your daughter was told by Saturday Market’s security that she couldn’t sell there, not by Parks Rangers or Portland Police.
Portland’s parks are public spaces where permits are required to sell goods and services. Otherwise, parks all over the city could be full of vendors every day, potentially impacting the park experience for those who go to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in a big city.
Oregonians value free speech and freedom of expression. Our Constitution gives more weight to these values than the United States Constitution. People are allowed to ask for money, to play bucket drums and ask for tips, and to ask for signatures on ballot measures, both in parks and on sidewalks.
It would be legal for your daughter to stand near Saturday Market with bags of mistletoe and a sign that said, “Mistletoe – donations welcome.” When I was a little older than your daughter and began my career by earning money babysitting, I did not set a fixed price per hour for my services. I told those who hired me that whatever they felt was fair was fine with me. I found that I was paid more than my contemporaries who charged a fixed amount per hour. Your daughter may find that she makes more money suggesting she would welcome donations than by selling at a fixed price.
I hope this clarifies the rules for both Saturday Market and Parks/sidewalk policies. One component in success in business is knowing the rules and following them. I trust that the publicity this experience has garnered will help your daughter’s sales. I look forward to the day when dental care will be covered by the Affordable Care Act, so no child or parent has to worry about how to pay for braces.
Follow-up: Portland Saturday Market leaders contacted the Root family and offered a free permit for her to sell within the market. The Oregonian's Shane Kavanaugh reported on additional outcomes: