NYC mulls new recommendations to help street vendors obtain licenses and permits
New York City is aiming to make it easier for street vendors to obtain licenses and permits after decades of bureaucracy and red tape.
Alicia Gonzalez sells jewelry on the streets of the Bronx. She wants to obtain a general license from the city to sell her merchandise legally. But for the past five years, she says has been unable to do so.
This week, Mayor Eric Adams' office announced new citywide recommendations to help modernize and reform regulations for street vendors.
The proposed change will help reduce years of bureaucratic red tape that advocates say deterred some street merchants from operating legally.
Maria Falcon, who has a license but not a permit to sell food, recently made headlines after she was carted away in handcuffs by officers in April.
The Street Vendor Project, an advocacy group, says permits for mobile food vendors have remained capped for the past 40 years, which has made it virtually impossible to get.
The group says vendors, many of them immigrants, and single mothers work in fear.
"You're constantly looking over your shoulder, you are looking for an enforcement agent that will come up and close you down for the day or give you a $1,000 fine because they can do so," says the group's Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez.
Kaufman-Gutierrez says about 12,000 New Yorkers are currently on the waiting list, with Brooklyn having the highest number of vendors seeking either a general license or mobile food permit, followed by the Bronx. She says modernizing the city's street vending business has long been overdue.
Some of the recommendations that the city is now considering is doing away with fines and violations and creating a business support system for street vendors.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez hopes to one day get a general license to legalize her small street business, which she says supports her and her four children.