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City Council Members Call for More Street Food Vendor Protections

They are joining advocacy groups in calling on the mayor to stop fining street food vendors during the novel coronavirus crisis

A man is walking away with a plastic bag containing food in front a food truck. Another man stands in the foreground with a mask on his face.
The City Council is calling on the mayor to protect street food vendors during the ongoing crisis
Gary He/Eater

After a street food vendor was fined last week for not having the right paperwork on him, the New York City Council is now calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office to suspend enforcement of vendors unless it constitutes a significant risk to public health.

City Council member Margaret Chin — who has been working to push legislation that will remove a cap on street vending licenses and create an independent agency to monitor street vendors — drafted the letter to the mayor, along with Council member Carlos Menchaca. Six other Council members have also signed on to the letter.

“Instead of spending time on squeezing money out of immigrant workers who are suffering from record losses and are increasingly worried about how they’ll put food on the table, our city needs to create a comprehensive relief package that is inclusive of all types of businesses and workers, and that includes street vendors,” says Chin in a statement to Eater.

It’s the latest the call to increase protections for the street food vending community that has also been decimated by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Hundreds of vendors have left the city’s streets as foot traffic has shrunk exponentially due the current restrictions on public life. Those who have remained report plummeting sales. The City Council now joins groups like the Street Vendor Project, a non-profit that counts thousands of vendors among its members, in calling on the city to make some changes.

In addition to the enforcement issue, Council members are also asking that outstanding tickets issued to vendors since January 2020 be waived and that street food vendors be included in any upcoming emergency relief funds for workers, a majority of who are immigrants and people of color.

Below is a copy of the letter. Eater has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.