Momentum builds behind effort by Council Members Chin and Menchaca to update decades-old street vendor rules and regulations.
CITY HALL- Council Members Margaret S.Chin and Carlos Menchaca rallied today with street vendor, transportation and immigrant rights advocates ahead of a key Council hearing for historic reform legislation.
Council Member Chin and Menchaca’s bill, Intro 1116, aims to bring increased opportunities, fairness and consistent enforcement to a chaotic system created by a decades-old cap that has forced many vendors to turn to an underground market for licenses.
“The time has come to reform a broken system that negatively impacts vendors, their families and surrounding communities,” said Council Member Chin. “For too long, hardworking vendors have been victimized by a thriving black market for licenses. And too many communities have seen the chaos on our streets caused by ineffective vendor enforcement. Through this legislative process, we have an opportunity to make this system work better for everyone — including our vendors, many of whom are immigrants looking to create a better life for themselves and their families.”
“Vendors are a vital an indispensable part of our economy, and more largely, of our City’s landscape,” said Council Member Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. “Yet they are subject to an arbitrary and broken regulatory system that is unfair to everyone. Add to this the fact that most vendors are immigrants, and it’s clear that we are dealing with an economic and immigrant justice issue of the highest order. But there is a solution and we are at a pivotal moment. With Int. 1116-A, we can establish more clarity for all stakeholders while ensuring that vending continues to be a key entry point into the City’s economy. This legislation is a long time coming, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the Council, advocates, and vendors in calling for these reforms.”
In 1979 and 1983, the City put severe limits on the number of vending licenses and permits issued to food vendors. These actions reduced the number of food vending permits from 12,000 to only 3,000. With this limited number of legal licenses, an underground market has flourished, forcing many vendors to operate in an unfair system that creates a chaotic situation on our streets.
By creating an independent enforcement agency and lifting the decades-long cap on vending licenses, Intro 1116 would bring fairness, consistency, and clarity to a broken system. At the same time, the legislation will deliver desperately-needed economic justice to immigrant entrepreneurs who are working hard every day to support themselves, their families and their loved ones.
“NYC has been always a sanctuary city for immigrants, but vendors don’t feel safe in our city now,” said Mohamed Attia, Co-Director of the Street Vendor Project. “We hope that the city will pass this legislation and support street vendors and give them the help they need and deserve.”
“Street vendors currently operate under an antiquated system that has encouraged an underground market,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “This bill will update our laws to gradually allow for more permits while increasing enforcement and creating a formal system for input from the community and small businesses. I thank Council Members Chin and Menchaca for their leadership on working with stakeholders to update our nearly 40-year-old laws governing street vendors.”
“Our city’s economy thrives not only on the success of our brick and mortar businesses but the fairness and opportunity we afford to our street vendors,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Co-Chair. “The antiquated structure currently in place fails to account for the growth in New American New Yorkers over the past several decades and is urgently in need of reform. I commend Council Members Chin and Menchaca for opening up this dialogue on behalf of our repressed immigrant communities. Economic prosperity and entrepreneurship should be shared, and not predicated on the suppression of another business sector.”
“New York can and must put an end to the exploitative underground market for vending licenses by increasing the cap on street vendor permits,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “I’m proud to support this legislation to create better working conditions and business opportunities for our street vendors, while also paying attention to the needs of brick and mortar small businesses.”
“Street vendors, like many local small businesses, are an important part of the economic and cultural lifeblood in many of our city’s communities,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “We need to reform a dated system that unfairly pits burgeoning local entrepreneurs, many of them immigrants, against one another and hinders economic development. I’m proud to support Int. 1116 – and I thank Council Members Chin and Menchaca for their leadership on this issue – so we can build a better-regulated system that encourages equitable economic growth and gives critical stakeholders a voice in the process.”
“Street vendors have been an acontroversial issue in New York City for well over a century,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I am proud to support this bill, and I thank and congratulate Council Members Chin, Menchaca, Lander and Rose for their work on this important issue. Given that food vending is a business that occurs on public space – our sidewalks – we have to pay special attention to enforcement.”
“The Asian American Federation is proud to stand with our City Council leaders who are working to expand licensing for street vendors,” Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. “We see this fight in the same light as our current work to support food delivery workers. There are thousands of workers who contribute to our city’s economy, whether they be food delivery workers or street vendors who are, in every way, small business operators. We applaud the resilience of immigrants who are working to earn an honest day of wages, to put food on the table for their families, and to play a role in building our economy. We stand with immigrant workers and thank Councilmembers’ Chin and Menchaca’s efforts to bring fairness and order to a chaotic enforcement system created by licensing caps.”
“Street vendors have been a part of the New York City streetscape for well over a century, contributing to the vibrant street life of our city while reducing barriers to entry into business,” Thomas DeVito, Senior Director of Advocacy at Transportation Alternatives. “The current cap on street vendors was enacted decades ago and has not been lifted a single time since. The failure to lift the cap for almost four decades despite population growth and despite the growth in demand for vending defies explanation. This legislation provides a responsible framework for the growth of street vending, while maintaining a pedestrian level of service, and should pass as soon as possible.”
“As New Yorkers, we know that street vendors play a critical role in our city. Vendors create vibrancy and community in our neighborhoods,” said Suzanne Adely of Food Chain Workers Alliance. “Vendors bring healthy food into neighborhoods. Vendors increase safety for our communities by being trusted eyes and ears on the streets. Vendors are the lifeblood of our streets and neighborhoods and are a vital part of our local economy. We are proud to stand alongside vendors from every borough of the city today.”