More Street Vendors in NYC?

Immigrants and others who wish to make a living as street vendors may soon find the barriers to entry lifted. City Council member Ydanis Rodríguez from Washington Heights has proposed a bill lifting the caps on the number of vendor permits, which could open the way for many more permits, which currently cost $200, to be issued by the city, reports Kimberly Garcia in the Mott Haven Herald.
“We hope that with more permits, especially food permits, we can increase the food diversity in the city,” said Elise Goldin, the senior organizer of The Street Vendor Project, a citywide organization that is pushing for a lift on the caps on permits. “The more permits are available, the more access to healthy food and diverse types of food can be permeated throughout all of New York City, but especially [in] neighborhoods like Mott Haven.”
Señor Ramírez, who asked that his first name not be used, is an immigrant from Morelos, Mexico, who sells Italian ices from his small green cart on 138th Street between Brook and Willis Avenues. A Mott Haven local, he’s lived on 138th Street for eight years and gets the ices from a nearby factory. He stands in front of the neighborhood schools every afternoon and sells the sugary delight to the kids. Yet he worries about being undocumented, about not having a vending permit, and about getting his cart taken away by police.
“If the ice cream trucks sees me, the police come,” Ramírez said. “Businesses want us out because we charge less.”
Right now there are about 5,000 food vendor permits and 800 general merchandise permits for the entire city, Mott Haven Herald says. “Many vendors and advocates see the cap as unfair and exploitive,” the article continues, “since many in the vending community are immigrants serving customers in low-income communities that could use
these goods and services – especially in a ‘food desert’ like the South Bronx.”
In addition to lifting the caps,
the city should clarify rules about where vendors are allowed to make their sales, Goldin of The Street Vendor Project told Garcia.
Currently, if vendors set up too close to a bus stop or a train station, they can be fined anywhere from $500 to $1,000. These boundaries, however, are not clearly marked, making it difficult for vendors to know when they are within a legal distance.
“I’ve been fined eight times,” Ramírez said. He said his first ticket was $350 and every time after that, they totaled $250 each. He pays the fines since the repercussion for not paying within the month is a new fine totaling $900. He makes a minimum of $80 a day and the maximum he ever earned was $200.

Voices of NY

Posted by on May 13 2015. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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