Street vendors, local elected officials, and organizations with the NYC Street Vendor Justice Coalition rallied around City Hall, calling for the New York City Council to implement the ‘Street Vendor Reform’ platform on Thursday, March 16.
The ‘Street Vendor Reform’ platform includes the top four top needs of NYC’s smallest businesses: (1) Ensure all vendors can access licenses (2) Repeal criminal liability for vendors (3) Create a division of NYC Small Business Services with educational services for street vendors (4) Open more legal vending locations.
“I have long dreamed of owning a food truck where I could sell West African pastries and beignets,” said Marie Rose Goba, Bronx street vendor and member of the Street Vendor Project. Goba is one of the vendors who fought for the passage of Local Law 18, which was passed in January 2021.
Local Law 18 introduced 4,450 new mobile food vendor permits, now called ‘supervisory licenses,’ over the course of the next 10 years.
However, the New York State Department of Health is several months late in issuing them, and there are extra long waitlists, which are so long they have been closed for over a decade. As a result, vendors have two choices: either rent a permit from existing permit-holders on an underground market for up to $25,000, or sell without a permit, and be issued heavy fines of at least $1,000.
Furthermore, there are currently more than 10,000 individuals on the Mobile Food Vendor Waitlist and 11,926 individuals on the General Vendor Waitlist.
The platform has the support of the NYC Street Vendor Justice Coalition (SVJC), a group of organizations representing small businesses, public space, labor and immigrant rights advocates. SVJC members include the Arab American Association of New York, Open Plans, United for Small Business, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), and the Street Vendor Project (SVP), who advocate for a fair vending system in NYC, one that treats our city’s smallest businesses with dignity.
Several Council members in attendance also expressed support for the platform. These include Pierina Sanchez, Gale Brewer, Oswald Feliz, Christopher Marte, Shahana Hanif, Julie Won, Shekar Krishnan, Tiffany Caban, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
The nearly 20,000 street vendors of New York City — majority immigrants, New Yorkers of color, military veterans, and women — make this city what it is,” said Cabán.
“We can do better. We can replace our broken governance of street vendors with a more coordinated, permissive interagency approach that brings street vending in New York City out of the shadows and into harmony with our communities,” added Sanchez.
Hanif echoed Sanchez’s sentiment, saying, “It is far past time we end the unnecessary and burdensome regulations that are crushing street vendors. These hard-working immigrants are part of the lifeblood of our City’s economy and yet are subject to some of the most unfair red tape.”
Krishnan emphasized, “Thousands of street vendors support themselves and their families by providing food, clothing, and other goods every day to millions of New Yorkers. Our city wouldn’t survive without them.”