Struggling NYC Street Vendors Rally for Changes in Enforcement Law
In New York City, a swelling coterie of street vendors are rallying for changes in the enforcement of municipal regulations that they claim impede their ability to make a living.
These vendors—who hawk everything from hot dogs to jewelry on city streets—have long been forced to contend with a heavy-handed municipal code that they argue restricts their operations in an unfair and discriminatory manner.
Recently, the vendors have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the current enforcement regime and are now calling on city officials to make changes to the existing laws.
At a recent rally in the heart of Manhattan’s bustling midtown district, dozens of vendors gathered to demand an overhaul of the laws that they say have been enforced with an overbearing, and often arbitrary, hand.
“We’re just trying to make an honest living,” said one vendor, who asked to remain anonymous. “But the current enforcement laws make it almost impossible.”
The vendors’ primary complaint centers around the fact that the city’s enforcement agents are allowed to issue hefty fines to vendors that fail to comply with the law. Many vendors complain that these fines are often imposed without any warning, leaving them unable to pay without incurring further financial hardship.
“The fines are too steep and too frequent,” said another vendor. “It’s just not fair.”
The vendors are now calling for a relaxation of the current enforcement regime, including a greater emphasis on verbal warnings instead of fines and the creation of a system of appeals for those who have been issued a fine or citation.
“We just want the laws to be enforced fairly and equitably,” said a third vendor. “That’s all we’re asking for.”
With the city’s street vendor population growing by the day, the vendors are hoping city officials will take heed of their call for reform. Until that day comes, however, the vendors will continue to face an uphill battle in their efforts to make a living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.