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Ramos Wants to Lift Cap on Street Vendors, Introduces Senate Bill

State Sen. Jessica Ramos at rally in support of street vendors in April (Office of Senator Ramos)

Nov. 6, 2019 By Allie Griffin

State Senator Jessica Ramos wants to lift the city’s cap on the number of street vendors allowed throughout the five boroughs.

Ramos introduced a bill on Oct. 28 that would prohibit cities throughout the state, including New York City, from limiting the number of street vendor permits.

The bill applies to both food vendors and those who sell general merchandise such as pottery, jewelry and crafts.

There are just 3,100 permits available for year-round food vending in New York City, with an additional 2,000 available on a seasonal basis. Despite the city’s population growth, this number has largely gone unchanged since the 1980s. Additionally, there are just 853 licenses for the sale of general merchandise.

The city has historically been reluctant to raise the number of permits. Opponents–particularly landlords–argue that street vendors hurt brick-and-mortar stores and cause sidewalk congestion.

The bill is of particular importance for Ramos, since her district includes Jackson Heights, an area that has gained fame for its food vendors, most of whom are immigrants.

“Street vendors are small business owners, often people of color and immigrants, who work in public spaces to provide food and other goods to the greater community,” Ramos’ bill reads. “Over the past 30 years, cities throughout the state have made it increasingly difficult for vendors to make a living, through the denial of vendor permits and the criminalization of the industry.”

The bill would also prohibit local governments from banning street vendors from city parks or specific locations except if is related to the health, safety and welfare of the public. The bill, however, would allow municipalities to ban stationary street vendors from exclusively residential areas.

The bill would also erase street vendors’ records of past citations and misdemeanors related to sidewalk vending.

The bill will not be taken up by the state senate until it returns for the 2020 session in January.

Most current permit holders have held them for decades, since the permits can renewed indefinitely. Therefore only about 50 spots open a year and the waitlist for a permit has more than 1,500 applicants on it, according to a 2017 study by Macaulay Honors College at Baruch.

The Street Vendor Project, which is part of the Urban Justice Center, estimates that there are about 10,000 to 12,000 street vendors across the five boroughs, including those that have permits. As a result, a black market has grown where permits that cost $200 from the city are illegally resold for as much as $25,000.

Similar legislation to lift the cap has been introduced on a city level but has failed to gain traction.

A bill was introduced last year by Council Member Margaret Chin that aimed to increase the total number of permits to 9,100 over a period of 10 years. The bill never made it to the full council for a vote.

In 2016, former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito proposed a bill dubbed the Street Vending Modernization Act, which would have doubled the number of food vendor permits. That bill also never passed.

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24 Comments

Coach from legends bar

Maybe we could get one put in front of my bar, since we dont have a kitchen anymore.

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Juan Nieves

The only bar I ever saw advertised free corned beef sandwiches for st.Patty’s day and the owner came in with 2 corned beef heros from some deli, cut it in one inch slices and gave it out. No lie. I got enough to fill a cavity.

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Claire

The owners of that legend bar only have themselves to blame that they don’t have a kitchen. They kicked the guy out that was running it. The food was very good.

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Kenny Craig

An unlimited number of food stands placed anywhere a person chooses ,with no way to inspect them for food safety?Sure,what can go wrong?

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Sean

82nd Street looks shabby with the $2 clothes racks right outside the subway station exit. There are 6 shops on the block that have closed up shop already, just put them in the shops area. A public sidewalk is meant to be a means of egress and flow, not a marketplace to sell your wares. I see the clothes racks out there everyday and they make a 36″ wide sidewalk only 12″. You have a foot to move two lanes of foot traffic. The vendor cap was put in place for a reason. Vendors will end up like Lime bikes in Hoboken, all over the place. Those that grill meats leave behind grease on the sidewalk and don’t clean it up and it causes a slip hazard when it rains.

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Gardens Watcher

Jessica Ramos keeps pushing bills that are detrimental to her district, to the rest of NYC, AND bad for the entire state. She needs to be primaried! VOTE HER OUT!

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Astoria citizen

There is enough congestion in all the boroughs; we can’t walk over the streets and the sidewalks are full of garbage. And it’s not fair for retail merchants who pay permits, rents, taxes, employees,….Miss Ramos, you should rally in support of safer streets, fight against crime, and educated the NY citizens to respect the rules and keep the street clean. I’m sorry that I voted for her

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Ronald Gonella

Enough already. Sidewalks on 37th Ave in Jackson Hgts are already congested by too many vendors. And the produce operation on the corner of Roosevelt Ave & 75th St consists of a large truck & a sidewalk operation that makes crossing the avenue risky at times due to congestion & traffic. Does this operation even have a vendor permit? Councilman Dromm has yet to reply to me concerning numerous inquiries to his office.

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Iain Middleton

She better have a plan for paying for the clean up after the street vendors leave. There needs to be a better structure in place to stop the streets becoming dirty, cluttered, and more treacherous for kids and the elderly to walk on.

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Go away all vendors

They hurt storeowners terribly. Support storeowners not these vendors. We pay rent, real estate taxes, responsible to keep street clean. Very high rent, vendors pay non of that and they are not held to the high standards with their products as a store is. They are like peddlers, and the city dont care the vendors hurt us store owners, just as long as theyre permits paid. Meanwhile the vendor gets all cash, no taxes. Get rid of them

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JH Resident

There is enough congestion on Jackson Heights streets now without more vendors bring Jackson Heights back to the clean neighborhood it used to be enough is enough!!!!

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Common Sense

I’m all for increasing the number of permits and regulating vendors. But lifting the cap and allowing a free for all? It’s hard enough to walk down the street and not choke on smoke from a shopping cart barbecue as it is!!!! Come on!! Jessica Ramos has turned out to be such a disappointment. I’m genuinely sorry that I voted for her.

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peter paul

so then vote her out and demonstrate your sick of walking on congested streets that would put rush hour mta traffic to shame.

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Crackson Heights

In before the racism. Lol . But yea I think there needs to be a cap but I think vendors are hard workers . Just don’t want miles and miles of street vendors there has to be a compromise.

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Stew Gotts.

She should rally in support of safer streets , fight against crime, reckless motorists etc.
She’s just a cheap show along with Cruz and AOC.
Useless .

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