February 22, By Hannah Wulkan
A well-known Queens woman who died a year ago was honored for her advocacy work for street vendors last night.
Street vendor and activist Claudia Lopez was remembered at a rally at the Urban Justice Center in Manhattan Tuesday night, honoring her work to increase the number of street vendor permits issued by the city.
The rally called on the City Council to take action on Intro 1303, which was introduced in the Council last October and would gradually raise the number of street vendor permits issued by the city.
The city has capped the number of permits it issues at 3,100 since the 1980s, and if passed, the bill would nearly double the number of permits allowed over the course of seven years.
Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, whose district covers Jackson Heights and Corona, where Lopez worked as a vendor, is a sponsor of the bill.
Lopez spent her life advocating for the city to raise the cap on street vendor permits, as it often took vendors many years to obtain a permit to legally work as a vendor. After immigrating to United States in the 1980s, she worked as an unpermitted street vendor selling churros on Roosevelt Avenue in Corona for more than 20 years. Lopez died last February still waiting to receive a permit from the city.
She worked with the Urban Justice Center on its #LiftTheCaps campaign, and was on the board of the 82nd Street Partnership, the local Business Improvement District in Jackson Heights.
“Claudia Lopez was a beloved member of the Queens and street vending community. She was the embodiment of the American Dream and was a fierce advocate for street vendors. For twenty years she sold homemade churros and other goods without a permit. It’s time New York recognizes that this permit cap has for too long hindered vendors like Claudia. It’s time for New York to lift the cap,” said Sean Basinski, Director of the Street Vendor Project at The Urban Justice Center.
The #LiftTheCaps campaign kicked off in 2014 as part of the Street Vendor Project, and advocates for the city to increase the number of permits it gives out to street vendors, as the low cap has created a black market for vending permits, and a waiting list for permits up to 20 years long.
“How many more of us need to go through a situation like this one in order to get the city’s support on lifting the cap?” said Sonia Perez, a member of Make the Road New York, at the rally.