State bill would allow street-vendor free-for-all in NYC

Legislation would remove cap on licenses and lift limits on locations

New York /
Oct.October 01, 2021 07:00 AM
Sen. Jessica Ramos is the bill's sponsor (Getty, Facebook via Ramos)

Sen. Jessica Ramos is the bill’s sponsor (Getty, Facebook via Ramos)

UPDATED Oct. 1, 2021, 10:52 a.m.: A coalition of advocacy organizations is pushing a state bill to vastly expand street vending across New York City.

The legislation would eliminate the city’s cap on the number of licenses for street vendors. It would also let vendors operate just about wherever and whenever they want, with limited exceptions.

“My underlying belief is that any New Yorker should be able to open their own small business in their neighborhood,” said Sen. Jessica Ramos, the bill’s sponsor.

That view is not shared by commercial landlords and the business improvement districts that represent them. Seeing vendors as competition for brick-and-mortar businesses, these real estate interests were able to stymie pro-vendor city legislation for decades, although a bill raising the cap and loosening some other rules eventually did pass this year.

The state bill, however, would go much further. Aside from providing for unlimited vending licenses and removing location bans, it would vacate street vendors’ records from past citations and misdemeanors related to sidewalk vending, reduce fines and limit street vending violations to citations.

“All the BIDs are very unhappy with this idea,” said Dan Biederman, founder and president of one of those groups, the 34th Street Partnership. “It hurts retail, which is already stressed.”

Under the bill passed by the City Council in January, the city will hand out 400 additional licenses annually for 10 years starting in July 2022, more than doubling the number of licenses.

Currently, holders of vendor licenses can renew them indefinitely for a nominal fee, a system that led to an illicit underground market.

“The lift on the caps is a really, really, really important aspect of this bill, because it doesn’t limit the ability for anyone to to create a street vending small business,” Assembly member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, who sponsors the Assembly version of the bill.

Support for the legislation follows social media outcry over a street vendor’s illegal stand in the Bronx being raided by the New York Police Department and Department of Sanitation.

In a statement, the Street Vendor Project, an advocacy group for vendors, called on the legislature to “[remove] the barrier to entry to the industry so that vendors may obtain permits and licenses to operate their business in accordance with the law.”

“As we recover from a devastating pandemic, we urge the legislature to invest in economic development strategies that center the most marginalized, supporting street vendors in doing their jobs and acquiring permits and licenses to legalize their work, rather than criminalizing them for trying to provide for their families,” the organization said in a statement.

The state bill would only apply to New York City. The state legislative session will begin in January.

This story has been updated with comments from Dan Biederman.





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    A photo illustration of the proposed Lower Platte River Corridor (Getty, Plan Preserve Play NE)
    Nebraska lawmakers mull digging $1B recreation lake
    Nebraska lawmakers mull digging $1B recreation lake
    From left: Silverstein Properties CEO Marty Burger; BedRock Real Estate Partners co-founder Tracey Applebaum; Council member Julie Won; a rendering of Innovation QNS in Astoria (Getty, BedRock Real Estate Partners, New York City Council)
    Council approves Silverstein, BedRock’s $2B Innovation QNS
    Council approves Silverstein, BedRock’s $2B Innovation QNS
    Illustration of Stefan Soloviev (HaydenSoloviev, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, Getty)
    Soloviev bets long-dormant Midtown East site in casino sweepstakes
    Soloviev bets long-dormant Midtown East site in casino sweepstakes
    CHIP's Jay Martin and HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas (Getty)
    Lies, damn lies, and statistics: Did rent-stabilized vacancies really fall?
    Lies, damn lies, and statistics: Did rent-stabilized vacancies really fall?
    PulteGroup's Ryan R. Marshall and RedFin's Glenn Kelman (PulteGroup, RedFin, Getty)
    Wall Street is bidding up housing stocks again
    Wall Street is bidding up housing stocks again
    Empire Capital Holdings' Josh Rahmani, Hakimian Capital's Michael Hakimian, RXR's Scott Rechler and 1330 6th Avenue (Getty, Hakimian Capital, Empire Capital Holdings, 1330aofa.com)
    Empire Capital, partners close on $320M deal for 1330 Sixth Ave
    Empire Capital, partners close on $320M deal for 1330 Sixth Ave
    MSquared's Alicia Glen, Mack Real Estate Group's Richard Mack and Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development's Barika Williams (Getty, ANHD)
    Richard Mack: New York developers “made to feel like the devil”
    Richard Mack: New York developers “made to feel like the devil”
    From left: BedRock’s Chuck Berman and Tracey Appelbaum, Kaufman Astoria Studios' Hal Rosenbluth, and Larry Silverstein with Innovation QNS
    Silverstein, Council strike deal on Queens megaproject
    Silverstein, Council strike deal on Queens megaproject
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...