Street Food Vendor License Cap To Be Lifted By New York City Council

A proposed City Council bill that aims to lift a longstanding cap on street vendor permits available in NYC has received strong opposition from some neighborhood restaurants and business groups. According to the New York Post, over 150 food businesses and local organizations — including the Downtown Alliance, Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District and the Long Island City Partnership — sent a letter to Speaker Corey Johnson opposing the bill, which street vendors and advocacy groups have been fighting to pass for years.

Restaurateurs expressed concern that more street vendors may drive away business from their establishments. Sandra Jaquez, the owner of Inwood Mexican restaurants Il Sole and Sa’Tacos, said that allowing more street vendors causes more direct competition for customers in an already-strained economy. A street vendor parked near her restaurant and sold tacos for $2.50 apiece, while she was selling tacos for $4.50 apiece, she told the Post. “Why not help us? We employ people,” she said.

NYC has a decades-old, stringent cap on street vendor permits that has crippled the industry, according to those in favor of the bill. The cap has led to 20-year-long waitlists and has cultivated a black market where permits are sold for huge markups. If the legislation passes, it would allow the number of street food vendors to rise from 5,000 to 9,000, according to the Post.

Cirey Johnson told the Post that the Council is “seriously considering” passing the bill. The legislation is sponsored by Council member Margaret Chin and backed by 28 other members.

We know that a lot of our community members are street vendors, selling everything from T-Shirts, bags, and perfumes. However, very few of them have the food vendor license, which, as stated above, is hard to get, due to the cap placed on it. This is a conversation that needs to happen, as the restauranteurs certainly have a point, with all their overhead costs.

We would follow this story and let you know if the legislation passes, for those interested in applying for the food vendor license.

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