Legislation will cap maximum fines at $500 and will alleviate congestion on City sidewalks
City Hall, NY –Speaker Christine C. Quinn today announced the Council will pass a package of legislation to reduce vending fines and ease the burden on New York City’s street vendors. The bills, to be voted on by the full Council at Wednesday’s Stated meeting, will cap maximum fines at $500 and will prohibit vending near hospital no-standing zones, taxi stands and within 20 feet of residential building exits. Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Daniel R. Garodnick and Council Members Stephen Levin, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Gale A. Brewer joined in the announcement.
“Street vendors are an important part of our City’s backdrop. The legislative package the Council will pass next week will ease the financial burden placed on street vendors and will clarify City regulations on where vendors can operate,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Our bills will end punitive fines and keep our streets safe– making it a win for the City, and a win for New Yorkers.”
Street vendors hailed today’s announcement, and noted the important impact of the bills. “Street vendors and their supporters, from across the city, are grateful to Speaker Quinn for bringing these bills to a vote. Vendors are hardworking men and women who serve their local communities and make this city great. Lowering the maximum fine will be a major step in helping vendors, and we look forward to celebrating the bill’s passage in the City Council,” said Sean Basinski, Director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, speaking on behalf of their 1,500 members.
Specifically, the bills the Council is scheduled to pass will:
• Decrease the maximum fine for vending violations from $1,000 to $500 and change the penalty system so that penalties increase for repeated violations only. This legislation would not affect violations of the health code or for vending without a license. (Int. No. 434-A)
“Intro 434-A will go a long way towards making life a little easier on hardworking vendors,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Currently, fines for even minor violations, such as being a few inches too far from the curb, escalate for unrelated offenses, reaching to a maximum of $1,000. Like all small business owners, vendors cannot afford to pay these exorbitant penalties. This legislation will reduce the maximum fine to $500, aligning the penalty with the violation and ensuring that vendors can afford to pay their fines. I would like to thank Speaker Quinn and Chairman Garodnick, who have been enormously supportive of small businesses in New York City, for their leadership and their work on this bill.”
• Prohibit all vendors from vending within a taxi stand. (Int. No. 684)
“I want to thank Speaker Quinn and Consumer Affairs Chair Garodnick for their assistance in moving Intro 684 forward,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “This legislation has the simple goal of clarifying the rules regarding vendors in New York City. Currently, general vendors are barred from operating within taxi stands but food vendors are not. My bill would bar food vendors from operating within taxi stands as well, and keep taxi stands free to serve their intended purpose of providing access to transportation. I am supportive of vendors, which are an important part of our city landscape, but we also need common sense regulations to govern their operation. I am also a Sponsor of Intro 434, introduced by CM Levin, which reduces the maximum fines for vending violations. I believe in sensible regulation, but not exorbitant fines. These two bills strike the appropriate balance, and I look forward to their passage.”
• Prohibit vending within twenty feet of building entranceways and residential buildings exits and next to no standing zones near hospitals. (Int. No. 727-A and Int. No. 789A)
• Require officers that issue violations to record the permit number of the vehicle or cart when issuing violations. This will enable agencies to identify all violations issued to a particular cart or vendor when reissuing permits. (Int. No. 817-A)
“Current vendor laws are widely misunderstood and frequently ignored,” said Council Member Garodnick. “These bills will help to ensure that fines get paid, that permit holders self-police the vendors working for them, and that the rules themselves are easier and fairer all around.”
• Improve transparency on violations issued to vendors by requiring the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to submit annual reports to the Council on vendor license, and permit revocations and suspensions. The legislation will also require the Administration to submit quarterly reports on violation settlements. (Int. No. 16-A)
“Our city needs to support and not criminalize our hardworking street vendors,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am proud that the Council is taking a stand to lower the punitive fines that make it difficult for vendors to earn a living and I thank the Street vendor project for their incredible advocacy. Under the bill I am sponsoring, the Council will receive annual reports on vending enforcement. The hope is that this data will help inform future policy changes to our city’s vending system. I thank Speaker Quinn and Council Member Levin for their leadership and support.”
The bills will be voted on at the Council’s next Stated meeting on Wednesday, February 27th.