Ballfields Speak Out Against Anti-Vendor Law Which Lappin Calls “Misunderstood”

There was some concern in the comments last week that the Red Hook Ballfield Vendors, who were forced to move their operation into trucks before the start of the 2008 season, might be affected by the Anti-Vendor Law being considered by the New York City Council this week.  The ballfield vendors are no strangers to being on the brink of extinction, but according to Exec Director Cesar Fuentes they will not be affected by this particular law.

Our vendors don’t get parking tickets based on their vending location at the RH ballfields… still, I think this proposed law is disproportionately punitive & harsh towards all food truck vendors in NYC. While there should definitely be appropriate measures to address certain cases where food trucks are illegally parked, abuse/disobey public regulations, or pose a health risk to the public, it should be also kept in mind that this is the livelihood of all hard working entrepreneurs & their employees whose incomes depend on operating these trucks. Inherent to city life is the fact that we would inadvertently get a parking ticket or more. In fact, this is such a normal pattern in big cities like NYC, Chicago, or LA and there are even parking ticket quotas expected of all traffic officers to be met every month. Often times, a food vendor will have no choice than to pay a fine in order to conduct business in the city. This is not only true for small vendors, but also for large companies like UPS or FEDEX who receive traffic tickets in massive quantities & whose summonses you could see sticking out of windshields on a daily basis.

On Friday, the Street Vendor Project held a massive pushcart market downtown where they collected more signatures, and spoke out against this newly proposed law.  NY1 was there to cover the whole thing, and quoted city council member Jessica Lappin as saying that “the vendors are misunderstanding her bill, and that it does not apply to them but to the mobile food trucks set up on city streets all day, which feed the parking meters and idle.”

Oh, the vendors understand completely.  This bill is a ban on food trucks, masquerading as a law to free up a few parking spaces- and all street food lovers know that if the line in the sand isn’t drawn now, there’s no telling how far it will go.  Of course this is nothing new for street food, which has been under siege from big business since this city was founded.  Thankfully it’s part of the fabric of our historic city, and will remain so as long the people have a say in what happens here in NYC.

Today, ML friend Brooks of Sheffield announced that he was too discouraged by New York’s “inexorable march to glossy mediocrity” and as a result will be shutting down his blog Lost City:

“Bloomberg, the billionaire, city planner Amanda Burden, the millionaire, and their cabal of equally wealthy real estate and Wall Street pals forged ahead and got the metropolis they wanted all along: homogenous, anodyne, whitewashed, suburban, toothless, chain-store-ridden, ordinary, exclusive and terribly, terribly expensive. A town for tourists and the upper 2%. He took a world-class capital of culture, individuality and independent endeavor and turned it into the smoothest, first-class, gated community Houston ever saw. Walk down Broadway on the Upper West Side, Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, Third Avenue in Yorkville—or look at the gaping hole of Altantic Yards—and you will see the administration’s legacy.”

Let’s hope that street food doesn’t suffer a similar fate, at the hands of the same forces.

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