The NYC Hospitality Alliance was concerned about a last-minute rush to pass mobile vending reform legislation through the City Council in the last two weeks of the year.
But it was announced that the City Council has pulled the proposals after the NYC Hospitality Alliance joined with other business and community groups and expressed strong opposition. The legislation would have increased the number of new street vendor permits by 330 every year, for the next 10 years. The more than 3000 new permits would have been in addition to the thousands that already exist and did not account for those already operating without a permit.
We believe this proposal would have exacerbated the problem of unfair competition in which multiple food carts sell similar food in close proximity to brick & mortar restaurants for significantly lower prices because they do not have the same sky-high real estate and labor costs. The carts often operate too close to restaurants in violation of the law. In addition, they often leave trash on the sidewalk that the brick & mortar business is required to clean.
So the NYC Hospitality Alliance sprung into action. We worked with other business and community groups. It was a challenging battle but we were able to defeat this proposal. Click here to watch The Alliance’s Andrew Rigie discuss this issue with Errol Louis on NY1’s Road to City Hall.
As we have said in the past, the NYC Hospitality Alliance supports the hard work and entrepreneurship of those who operate food carts and trucks and we love their culinary delights. But the current permit and regulatory system is broken. The system is bad for vendors, it is bad for brick & mortar businesses, and it is bad for neighborhoods. Increasing the number of permits by the thousands and creating a dedicated enforcement squad, whose effectiveness is unproven, is not the best way to fix this complex issue.
To effectively fix the current system we believe:
- The city of New York must revoke the hundreds or thousands of $200 permits that are being illegally rented in the underground market, often for more than $20,000 each.
- A plan must be developed to help the people who worked on the unlawful carts to lawfully apply for the revoked permits or assist them in finding employment elsewhere, at another cart or truck, or even a restaurant or place of their choosing.
- A dedicated street vendor enforcement squad should be created to efficiently enforce the current regulations, such as the distance requirements from brick & mortar businesses that vendors must adhere to.
- An advisory board should be established representing diverse stakeholders from the street vending community, brick & mortar stores, business and community groups, and others. After review and deliberation, the advisory board should make additional recommendations for comprehensive street vending reforms that address issues ranging from food and pedestrian safety to vendor placement, the appropriate number of permits and enforcement.
We believe these types of proposals are needed for comprehensive reform that will improve the system for all parties. Anything short of this process is likely to exacerbate the problems currently faced by all stakeholders under the broken system that we currently have. It is counterproductive to issue new permits before addressing the roots of the problem.