New York City Council To Introduce ‘Street Vending Modernization Act’

Legislative Package Reforms Street Vending by Gradually Doubling the Number Of Food Vending Permits, Creates Real Enforcement, and Streamlining Rules and Regulations of Street Vendors. (Press release) (Photos / Gerardo Romo)
Photo:Gerardo Romo / New York City Council

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito along with Councils Members Mark Levine, Rafael Salamanca, Eric Ulrich, Margaret Chin, I. Daneek Miller and Julissa Ferreras- Copeland announced the introduction of the Street Vending Modernization Act (SVMA), legislation that will reform street vending in New York City and create new enforcement tools. The SVMA will be introduced at the October 13th City Council Stated meeting. Since the 1980’s there have been strict limits on the number of food carts and trucks allowed to vend on New York City streets. The result of this supply-side limitation has been a thriving black market in vending permits, which allows incumbent permit holders, many of whom do not vend anymore, to illegally rent their permits for tens of thousands of dollars. At the same time, the rules and regulations for food vending have become complicated and difficult to fairly enforce.

The SVMA will:

· Double the number of food vendor permits over seven years with 5% of new permits being set aside for veterans and the disabled

· Create a new dedicated vendor law enforcement unit to make sure vending rules and regulations are followed and applied fairly and consistently

· Focus initial enforcement efforts on congested areas and around supermarkets

· Improve compliance by installing street signs on blocks without legal vending, creating an app with a satellite view of legal vending spots, and requiring vendor training

· Establish a street vendor advisory panel to monitor enforcement and new permit rollouts and to examine and make recommendations for streamlining vendor laws and rules

· Establish a pilot program to examine methods of maintaining order in congested areas and create model vending zones

· Establish a pilot program to test the use of public school and other underutilized kitchens for use by food vendors

· Refine various outdated rules governing food vending

Photo: William Alatriste / New York City Council

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: “Street vendors add vitality to our streets and are an untapped economic resource. Street vending serves as an entry point into the City’s economy for low income New Yorkers and has created thousands of jobs, while serving millions of meals from every cuisine imaginable. Yet this vital economic asset has long been ignored and even stifled. The number of food vendor permits has been capped since the 80’s. Street vendors have been targeted with inconsistent enforcement and shaken down by unscrupulous permit holders who currently control access to the limited pool of vending permits. This legislation will increase opportunities for vendors and reduce the barriers to entry for street vendor entrepreneurs by raising the number of food vending permits while also implementing enforcement mechanisms to ensure that the rules are followed and our public spaces remain safe and vibrant.”

Photo: Gerardo Romo / New York City Council
Photo: Gerardo Romo / New York City Council

“In an era of relentless proliferation of chain stores all over New York City, street vendors are the ultimate mom and pop shops. But the system in which they have been licensed and regulated has been dysfunctional for years,” said NYC Council Member Mark Levine.The SVMA is a tremendous step forward in creating thousands of new opportunities for a diverse population of low-income New Yorkers, while also introducing innovative enforcement instruments that benefit the neighborhoods. The establishment of a Street Vendor Advisory Board and the creation of a first-of-its-kind Office of Street Vendor Enforcement will ensure fairness and consistency in the way street vendors are regulated. This progressive package of legislation will enable the stifled street vendor industry to thrive under a streamlined system for the countless New Yorkers who have been kept out of it for too long.”

“Some of New York’s most iconic immigrant-owned businesses have started as street carts, from Yonah Schimmel’s knishes a century ago to The Halal Guys today,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Street vending is a crucial low-cost first rung on the ladder of entrepreneurship. Within a framework of rules that are sensitive to neighborhoods’ needs, we should absolutely be expanding street vending opportunities, modernizing the system of regulations that governs them, and ensuring there is adequate enforcement of the rules.”

Council Member Margaret Chin said: “‎Street vendors are an integral part of our Cityscapes and embody the entrepreneurial spirit that continues to define New York. This legislative package seeks to bring this vital economic sector into the 21st century by introducing fairness and increased opportunity for these neighborhood entrepreneurs, while ensuring order on our City’s streets. I am particularly pleased that my bills to allow ill or incapacitated street vendors to transfer their license to a family member‎, and to allow vendors to sell flowers during the Asian Lunar Year, are included in this comprehensive legislative package. No vendor should fear financial hardship or even arrest by simply trying to make a decent living for themselves and their families. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Levine, and rest of my Council colleagues and advocates for standing up for fairness and increased opportunity for our vendors.”

“Street vendors are small businesses, and what we are aiming to do through this legislation is bring equity to these businesses,” said Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr. “The current system is not working, and with so many of our vendors either immigrants or veterans, I’m proud to work with Councilmember Levine on this legislation.”

“This legislation will give more people the opportunity to make a living through street vending while also implementing robust enforcement mechanisms that apply the rules fairly and equally,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich, Chairman of the City Council Committee on Veterans. “In addition, these bills ensure veterans receive five percent of the additional permits so our large and diverse veterans community enter the food vending industry.”

Council Member Carlos Menchaca said: “New York City’s street vendor rules have been unrealistic and unfair for decades. New regulations must protect communities and allow entrepreneurs to thrive. I support legislation that gives vendors a chance to operate legally, and in reasonable numbers and places.”

Council Member Carlos Menchaca said: “New York City’s street vendor rules have been unrealistic and unfair for decades. New regulations must protect communities and allow entrepreneurs to thrive. I support legislation that gives vendors a chance to operate legally, and in reasonable numbers and places.” Photo: Gerardo Romo / New York City Council.

Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said: “Street vending provides a vital economic service to neighborhoods across the City. Vendors are small business owners from all over the world, and should be a way to break into the market like any other business. However, many must rent a permit on the black market for many thousands of dollars a year and navigate uneven and unpredictable enforcement. This has created disorder across the City. This legislative package will finally lift the cap on vending permits to ease the black market while balancing it with targeted enforcement. In addition, it will recognize that different neighborhoods have different vending needs, and create critical spaces to find locally based solutions that make the best use of our scarce public space.”

The SVMA consists of the following pieces of legislation:

· A Local Law to amend the New York city charter and the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to expanding the availability of food vendor permits, creating an office of street vendor enforcement, and establishing a street vendor advisory board

· A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to allowing ill or incapacitated street vendors to transfer their license to a family member

· A Local Law to amend to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the sale of plants and flowers during the Asian Lunar New Year

· A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to certificate of authority to collect state sales tax as required for mobile food vendors.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.