Today the NYC Council is holding a public hearing on long anticipated proposals to double the number of mobile vending permits, create a dedicated squad to enforce vending laws, form a vendor advisory board and modify other mobile vending regulations.
In addition to the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a broad range of advocacy groups and officials will testify in opposition and support of the various proposals.
The Alliance has long said we support entrepreneurship and the culinary traditions and innovation happening in the mobile food vending sector, but the current system is broken and must be fixed. Mobile vendors are often in violation of the law, which in turn has negative consequences for a segment of the brick and mortar restaurants our organization represents.
Today the NYC Hospitality Alliance's Andrew Rigie was quoted in Politico and summed up a popular sentiment we hear:
"A lot of restaurateurs feel they are paying huge rents, employing many people and paying a lot of money in taxes. They are unable to sell their product on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant and then someone vends a similar product at a much lower price point - taking business, making it much harder for their business to thrive (and) employ people."
While we believe aspects of the proposed legislation are needed - such as a dedicated enforcement squad - we believe that doubling the number of mobile vending permits will create more conflicts between brick and mortar restaurants and mobile vendors. And, it will not destroy the underground market that exists where permits are illegally rented and aspiring food entrepreneurs are exploited. Nor are the proposed distance requirements from which a vendor sells food/beverage from a brick and mortar restaurant (and sidewalk cafe) sufficient.