Skip to main content

NYC Street Vendors Demand More Permits

NYC Street Vendors Demand More Permits [Photo: Andy Cross, flickr]

Vendors in New York City are demanding more permits to sell food on the street.
In 1981, the City Council voted to cap the number of street vendor permits at 3000, and it's been that way ever since. But many vendors and advocates like Sean Basinski with the Urban Justice Center's Street Vendor Project say 3,000 permits are not nearly enough.
Basinski says the cap puts vendors in a "lose-lose-lose" situation of sorts. They can opt to hold out for legal permits on a decades-long waiting list.  Another choice is to purchase illegal permits on the black market Basinski says can cost up to $25,000. Lastly, vendors can elect to operate their carts without permits, risking arrest and seizure of property.
"There are a lot of [street vendors,] mostly immigrants, people who work hard every day just trying to provide us with the things we need as New Yorkers to get through the day," Basinski said. "They should be given a chance to do so legally instead of being chased, arrested and having their carts thrown in the garbage."
Proponents of the cap argue giving out more permits would result in an overflow of vendors creating gridlock around the city.  But Basinski says that wouldn't be the case.
"There are many streets where vendors are not allowed to go, and there are other rules that prevent there from being congestion," Basinski said.
Basinski says there's plenty of room in the city for thousands more vendors to legally work.
"Creating jobs for [vendors] and supporting their families, and eventually growing [vendors'] businesses to the point where they themselves can have a storefront," Basinski said. "That's good for the economy, and that's good for all of us as New Yorkers.
Basinski's calling on  lawmakers to create legislation that would remove the city's cap on permits altogether.