34th Street

City pols spark debate with bill that would double vendor permits

October 26, 2016
Erin Durkin, The Daily News

Street vendors and brick-and-mortar businesses clashed Wednesday over a bill that would more than double the number of permits allowed for food vendors.

The proposal, which went up for a hearing in the City Council, would add 4,445 new permits for street carts, doled out gradually over six years. The number available has been capped at 4,235 since 1983.

Vendors have pushed to lift the cap, saying they’re forced to shell out as much as $25,000 on the black market for permits the city gets only $200 for, they face hefty fines for working without a permit, or they get shut out of the industry altogether.

“We’re treated like criminals,” said Julia Chimborazo, 35, who sells ices to support her two kids and sick mother but hasn’t been able to get a permit, saying she’s been hit with several $1,000 fines and had her wares confiscated by cops.

The de Blasio administration did not take a firm position on the permit hike, saying they want to conduct a count of existing vendors first.

Health department officials said the city should consider imposing health standards on food peddled by new vendors.

“We should introduce measures to ensure that our children, in particular, are not bombarded with only unhealthy food offerings,” said Deputy Commissioner Corinne Schiff.

She also said the Council should consider restrictions on grilling meat, since it produces air pollution.

 “We have concerns on how some of the legislation may impact sidewalk conditions and the quality of life in our communities,” added NYPD Deputy Chief Frank Vega.

City Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), the sponsor of the bill, said the city already has plenty of information to conclude the current system needs an overhaul.