Street Vendor Project Supports Black Market Crackdown
Since the city arrested those guys involved in the vendor permit black market, and vowed to crack down on the vendors using illegally obtained permits, it’s no surprise that the Street Vendor Project issued this statement yesterday supporting the actions, while calling for the city to increase the number of permits offered ever year. (There is a bill being debated by the City Council now.)
“More than 9,000 New Yorkers are eager to be sidewalk chefs, but there are no food-vending permits available – so instead they’re languishing on a waiting list, hoping to secure one of about a dozen permits that free up every year.
The city only allows 3100 pushcart peddlers to sell curbside cuisine. By setting the cap far below vendor supply and public demand, the city unintentionally creates a thriving and exploitive black market, where aspiring vendors “rent” permits from illegal middlemen for more than $8,000. Other vendors are driven underground, where they’re unlicensed and unregulated.”
“The victims of the underground market are mostly new immigrants, with families to feed and rent to pay- and little English to fall back on. Desperate for the American dream, they pay exorbitant fees for access to the city’s sidewalks. It doesn’t make sense.
The city has taken an important first step by cracking down on black market profiteers. As these scammers are caught, we urge the city to re-assign the permits to working vendors.
To fully eradicate the illegal black market, the New York City Council should pass Intro 324, legislation that would raise the caps to realistic levels to help bring vendors out of the shadows and into the legal mainstream.” -Statement on behalf of Ali Issa, Street Vendor Project
And I’ll go a step further (because I know the SVP can’t.) Not only should the city crack down on the black market, and reassign the permits to working vendors as quickly as possible, but any vendor that is found to be using an illegally purchased permit should be given the opportunity to prove that their cart is up to code, and otherwise operating legally. If it is, they should be allowed to pay the city to transfer that permit legally to their name.
If a vendor’s only crime was being forced into buying an illegal permit by a poorly designed system that doesn’t properly account for demand, they should be given the opportunity to keep that permit in a legal way provided they can prove that they have been operating their business in an otherwise legal way for an extended period of time. There are a lot of good vendors, operating carts that are fully up to code, who are probably using illegally obtained permits. We should punish those who were taking advantage of these vendors, not the vendors themselves. To put it in a different perspective… punish the scalpers, not the fans trying to buy tickets to the sold out show.