New York City Council recently passed legislation that will lift the limit on the number of full-time vending permits for street vendors. The Bill, Intro 1116-B, will create 4,000 new permits for vendors over the next decade, beginning in 2022.
“Today…is a historic day that street vendors in New York City will remember forever,” says Mohamed Attia, Director of the Street Vendor Project (SVP) in a rally in support of the bill.
According to SVP, New York City caps the number of mobile food vendor permits at 5,000. Rather than request permits from the city to legally start and run their businesses, many vendors were forced into an underground market.
As a result, permits that normally cost US$200 every two years have been traded for up to US$25,000. Other vendors, foregoing a permit, risk high fines and arrest.
For years, SVP and street vendors have advocated to lift the caps on the number of permits, which has not changed since the 1980s.
After more than a decade of organizing, in 2016, New York City Council introduced the Street Vending Modernization Act. The package of bills called for, among other changes, a higher permit cap.
After stalling for several years, the Bill gained momentum during COVID-19, as the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities faced by the street vendor community.
On Thursday, New York City Council passed the Bill with a vote of 34 to 13. It will now go to Mayor Bill De Blasio, who is expected to sign it into law. De Blasio said in a recent press conference that he has wanted to see a plan to support street vendors for a long time.
According to the Bill, New York City will begin issuing new licenses in batches of 400 between 2022 and 2032. It also creates a vending law enforcement unit, which will be dedicated to enforcing vending laws.
“It is the right thing to do,” says Council Member Margaret Chin, co-sponsor for the Bill, in the rally. “This legislation will give hope and opportunity to hard working street food vendors and will allow us to begin to fix this chaotic system that’s been going on for almost 40 years.”
Photo courtesy of Andre Benz, Unsplash