No one was sure if it was the overcast skies or the District's new vending regulations, but many of the city's street vendors were noticeably absent yesterday.
The vending regulations, which took effect yesterday, were developed because city officials said they were inundated with complaints that the city was being overrun with vendors selling everything from Michael Jackson gloves to pots and pans.
D.C. police officers had issued about 100 warning tickets by late afternoon, said Sgt. Jose Acosta, head of the police department's vending unit.
He said they would issue warnings for a month to give vendors time to comply with regulations that include a restriction on machine-made apparel and require specially designed wooden carts.
But Kwasi Holman, executive director of the city's Office of Business and Economic Development, said the 30-day grace period was "definitely not an extension."
"We will issue warning tickets instead of seizing property and making arrests," he said. "We are encouraging people to come into compliance as quickly as possible."
Next month, $50 fines will be levied for those not in compliance, and vendors without the proper licenses will be arrested, police said.
On Tuesday, there were 16 vendors along K Street between Connecticut Avenue and 18th Street NW, but yesterday there were only five. And business was brisk.
Eleftherios Karavangelos, known as "Lekis" to his customers, had as many as nine customers waiting in line to buy his 90-cent hot dogs and $1.10 halfsmokes.
"I don't miss the other vendors," said Karavangelos, as he skillfully wrapped yet another hot dog in a bun and lavished mustard and relish on it. "I am okay by myself. I have my customers who come every day. I am never alone here because my customers are my friends."
Karavangelos and other food vendors already have approved carts.
The closest vendor to the hot dog stand was half a block away. Customers crowded around the stand, the only one selling jewelry and one of the few with a new cart.
"I had to pay $700 for my new cart," said the jewelry vendor. "A friend of my husband made it."
Not everyone was unhappy with the new rules. Kathy Ball, the manager of Harper's, a women's apparel store on K Street, said she was glad to see fewer vendors on the street.
"They destroyed our accessory business," said Ball. "We gave up selling handbags, sunglasses and less expensive earrings. We enjoy the hot dog and flower stands."