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New street vendor laws will end underground market, says lawmaker

New York City Council has approved historic legislation to mandate major reforms to the street vendor system.

The legislation provides new opportunities to legally vend and addresses concerns regarding the lack of effective enforcement of vending laws.

The number of food vending permits has been capped at 3,000 since 1983, despite high demand.

Starting July 2022, the legislation allows for the release of 400 food vending permits a year for ten years.

Of the 400 each year, 100 permits allow Manhattan vending (or vending in any other borough if they choose). The rest allow for vending in other boroughs outside of Manhattan.

The legislation requires that a permit holder must be always be present at the cart. By 2032, all permits — existing and new – will transfer to this system.

The new requirement will close the loophole that has led to widespread and illegal practice of renting the permits for thousands of dollars.

A dedicated unit will be established to enforce street vending laws, with a focus on locations where street vending is plentiful and congestion issues persist. The legislation will also create an advisory board to monitor the enforcement unit, oversee new permit roll-out, and make recommendations to both the Council and the Mayor on issues related to vending.

The board includes representatives for street vendors, the small business community, workers at retail food stores, property owners and community organizations, as well from city agencies.

The city’s Green Carts program would also be expanded to increase options for selling healthy food.

Margaret Chin

Council Member Margaret Chin said the legislation “puts an end to the underground market that currently preys on hardworking food vendors.”

She added, “Food vendors have always been part of New York City’s small business community; many successful restaurants started their business from a food cart. Vendors contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of our city and they deserve to make a living in a legal, dignified way.”

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