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The Ugly, Expensive Side of the Food Vendor Black Market

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Anyone who follows or has their foot in the street food world knows there's a thriving black market for almost impossible to acquire permits to vend in New York. But today, the Wall Street Journal explains just how dire the situation is and how expensive it's gotten to sell everything from gourmet foods to dirty water dogs on the streets.

Basically, the Health Department issues 3,100 year-round permits plus an additional 1,000 seasonal permits each for $200. They are renewable every two years. 292 permits are offered every year to new vendors on a lottery based system. The rest are kept by the original permit holders, most of whom are retired vendors and some of whom live out of state. Some fun facts:

· It is estimated that 60% or more of street vendor permit holders rent out their permits.
· 2,080 people are on the waiting list for a permit.
· Obtaining a permit can take up to a decade
· Permit holders are now charging upwards of $20,000 a year for permit use.
· A hot dog seller in the Bronx saw her fees rise from $7,000 to $14,000 in the last two years
Some are suggesting the city put new permits up for auction, like taxi medallions, so at least if someone's making a killing on these things, it's the tax payers.
· Prices for Food-Cart Permits Skyrocket [WSJ]
[photo credit]

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