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NY Post
New York Post
24 Feb 2024


NextImg:‘Absurd’ NYC Council bill would let street vendors hawk in middle of sidewalks: ‘Radical change’

Big Apple sidewalks may soon “radically change” under an “absurd” new City Council bill that allows streets vendors to block everything from mailboxes to benches, critics told The Post.

The legislation from Councilwoman Carmen De La Rosa (D-Manhattan) would permit pushcarts to set up two feet away from the curb, or an additional six inches further away from vehicular traffic than currently allowed.

But the bill would also allow vendors to place their carts “as close as possible” to any obstructions — which means the peddlers could set up shop in front of countless obstructions too.

A rendering of how public sidewalks in the Big Apple could be blocked by pushcarts under the proposed law change. Courtesy of HYHK

“Given the undefined term ‘obstruction,’ it would “allow vendors to block bike racks, public benches, LinkNYC Kiosks, news racks, newsstands, Citi Bike stations, parking meters, and mailboxes — rendering them all useless,” said Dan Scorse, vice president of operations at the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance.

The bill “would radically change how our sidewalks operate,” Scorse testified at a Jan. 31 hearing, handing council members a rendering of what he believes New Yorkers should expect if it becomes law.

“[It] would also allow vendors to set up in front of street trees, putting them in the middle of the sidewalk,” he said. “Perhaps most absurd, [the bill], as written, would allow a vendor to physically block another vendor.”

Ryan Merola, deputy commissioner of the city’s Sanitation Department also raised “concerns about the implications of the legislation.”

“The proposed expansion of the city’s street vending siting rules must still allow for accessible and passable sidewalks, and the bill’s language raises questions on usage of sidewalk space,” he testified.

Vendors on a city sidewalk sitting at tables with jewelry and hats, while pedestrians walk by and one stops to look at the merchandise.
Under De La Rosa’s bill, street vendors would be allowed to move into the center of walkways if they set up behind any “obstruction,” such as a public bench, critics said. Helayne Seidman

De La Rosa insisted she’s not trying to make it harder to navigate sidewalks.

“It is not our intent to make pedestrian use harder, more difficult, less accessible, but it is our intent to ensure that vendors clearly understand where they can vend and how they can vend,” she said.

The bill is part of a larger, vendor-friendly City Council legislative package seeking to overhaul NYC’s street-merchant industry.

It includes a bill by Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) to override Mayor Eric Adams’ ban on vendors hawking food, booze, and souvenirs on Big Apple bridges by allowing vendors to return under new restrictions.