Food TrucksBeing a Street Vendor in NYC is easy and fun- NOT

Last night I went into NYC for the “Street Vending 101” course given by the “Street Vendor Project” .  It was presented by Sean Basinski one of the founder of the project.  The SVP was started to help out the 10,000 people with Street Vendor Licenses in NYC, over 1000 are members.  After listening to Sean describe the way the city treats street vendors it is obvious that they desperately need this representation.  99% of it’s members are hot dog cart, nut cart, fruit cart, books cd’s and hat and glove type vendors and most are recent immigrants.  The most prominent ethnicity is Bangladeshi.  Only 10 of the members have “Gourmet Food Trucks”

The city does everything it can do to make life miserable for these vendors.  The most onerous one is the Health Department fine structure and what a fine can be given for.  The fine structure is $50  for the first ticket. $100 for the second, $250 for the third. $500 for the fourth and $1000 for the fifth.  As is that isn’t bad enough the nature of the violations are ridiculous.  If a vendor is setting up their booth (not even selling food yet) and they don’t have their license in plain sight it’s a ticket.  Too close to a  entrance to a building a ticket. Too far or too close from the curb a ticket. And the list goes on.  The time period for the tickets to escalate is 2 years.

What even is more absurd is in order to get a Mobil Food Vendor license you have to take a mickey mouse course that takes a week and pass a test that is all pictures, along the lines of a picture of a gloved hand and one without a glove picking up food, you have to select the correct one.  I’m fine with requiring food safety instruction and wish it went a little further, but there is one additional requirement-  each vendor has to get their own NY State Tax number,  in their name.  If you are working for an employer why do you need a tax number?  In NYS you have file quarterly reports with the tax office, even if you had no sales. Every employee on a truck has to have a license, even a driver or gofer. If every one on the vehicle doesn’t have their license of if it not visible guess what- ticket.  This makes no sense at all.

Oh well have to go, will continue with the dificulties involved with being a street vendor in NYC in the next entry