April 8, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
State Senator Jessica Ramos released a study Thursday revealing that the relationship between street vendors and storefront shop owners is far from adversarial–despite popular perception saying otherwise.
Ramos said that the findings support her argument that the city should increase the number of permits issued to mobile food vendors. She said she is urging council members to back a bill that would lift the number of food-vending permits from 5,100 to about 9,100, a number that has not change since 1983.
The report, titled Sidewalk & the Storefront, focuses on the relationship between street vendors and storefront owners and was based on dozens of interviews conducted on the Upper East Side, in Nolita, Sunset Park, and Jackson Heights/Corona.
The report, authored by Kathryn “Kurt” Wheeler for her master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at the Pratt Institute, found that contrary to traditional belief, brick-and-mortar business owners typically do not see vendors as a threat.
Ramos discussed the report at a rally in support of street vendors held at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Junction Boulevard in Corona last week.
“This research confirms what we know in Queens,” Ramos said at the rally. “Vendors are our neighbors – they are part of the fabric of our small business community, and they work together alongside our store owners, who often got their start as vendors themselves.”
There will be a hearing on the bill, which was introduced by Council Member Margaret Chin in September 2018, on Thursday April 11 at 10 a.m. at City Hall. Members of the advocacy group Street Vendor Project will be holding a rally in support of the bill at City Hall that morning at 9 a.m.
The group says that the currently low cap on food vending permits puts many vendors in the dangerous position of either having to pay a high price for an underground market permit or operating without a permit and risk their business getting shut down.
“Mayor de Blasio claims that helping street vendors will harm store owners, but that claim has been proven false,” said Mohamed Attia, co-director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center.
Mayor de Blasio’s office has yet to respond for comment.