Hearing to Lower $1000 Vendor Fines Takes Place Today

As you may know by now, the Street Vendor Project has been working on passing two bills that will lower the price of tickets for food vendors. The tickets can now cost up to $1000 per violation . And the violations might be as minor as setting up a foot too close to an intersection. If a vendor gets a few of these tickets, it can easily put them out of business.

There will be a hearing at City Hall today starting at 10am to get these bill passed. All who are available to come out and show their support are encouraged. I will be there representing Midtown Lunch and fighting to save our vendors from being shut down due to exorbitant fines.

You can read the composed testimony I will be giving and watch a short documentary about the campaign after the jump.

Good morning. My name is Brian Hoffman and I write for a very popular food blog called Midtown Lunch. We’re devoted to finding affordable, delicious lunches in the business districts of New York. I work in the areas of Midtown and the Financial District where the lunch options seem to be limited to high end steakhouses, generic bodegas, andĀ fast food chains. I imagine the reason for this is because the rents and property taxes for storefronts in Manhattan are so astronomically high that only the established and wealthy corporations can afford to pay them. Like most people, I like to take advantage of my limited lunch break, and since I’m not a fan of the highly processed and bland food served at many fast food chains and unfortunately can not afford to dine at high end restaurants every day, I look for other options.

Food carts and trucks provide that option for me. And have for many people in this city for hundreds of years. They offer an authentic, carefully prepared meal that is affordable and filling. It makes getting through the rest of the work day much easier. This is true for myself and the thousands of devoted lunchers who read our site every day.

Now I understand like all businesses, food carts and trucks need to be regulated. But I have seen some of my beloved carts disappear because they’ve been ticketed and can no longer afford to operate. My understanding is that each ticket given to a mobile food vendor can be as much as $1000 per violation. And the violations might be as minor as being a foot too close to an intersection. We’re not talking about crimes here, we’re talking about honest mistakes. That seems pretty extreme to me when a ticket for jumping a turnstile in the subway system, an actual crime, is only up to $500. Isn’t the point of these tickets to reprimand and remind rather than destroy businesses and livelihoods?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the owners of these food carts and trucks are not in a financial position to afford the expensive rents in Manhattan and so a $1000 ticket for a violation that might be beyond their control or due to an innocent mistake like putting their license in their pocket instead of around their neck might cost them their entire business. This is a major life-changing consequence for a minor infraction.

So please reconsider the amount of these fines. They were once $250 and that’s a reasonable amount. $1000 will put these small business owners out of business. Please allow them to operate legally and fairly. And please allow me and people like me to have our lunch. Thank you.

The Street vendors of New York – Short documentary from Samuel Enblom on Vimeo.

1 Comment

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I agree that $1,000 a ticket is too high, but we need to keep the fines at a level where they are not just another cost of doing business. Many of the hot dog carts, especially those in Central Park, are run by huge corporations such as M&T Pretzel and can easily afford $250 fines. Also, many food trucks like Rickshaw are owned by larger companies with brick and mortar stores. So we need a balancing act to make the fines a deterrent for all vendors.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.