Friday, October 07, 2005

Peddler to the Metal

We have commented often about the issue of peddler proliferation and its unfair impact on legitimate store owners. Now, however, the situation has simply gotten out of hand. A number of store owners have informed us that fruit peddlers are overrunning dozens of commercial streets in Manhattan.

The reality is that local regulations are being ignored with impunity. Under Sec.20-812 of the municipal code there are a whole host of restrictions including limits on the the legal size of one's cart, the allowed distance from a corner, synagogue or tree trunk and the size of a street where peddling is allowed. We are compiling pictures which clearly demonstrate that these infractions are not being enforced. Police, when informed about the problems, ignore the complaints.

What's particularly egregious about this lamentable situation is that for the last four years the city has treated small store owners as whipping boys for the benefit of a challenged public treasury. Enforcement has increased and fine levels have escalated as well. The mayor has even tried to increase the enforcement powers of the DCA, making the agency both judge and jury over helpless store keepers.

On top of all this, legislation has been introduced that would increase the legal number of vendors allowed on city streets. Supporters like to point to the poor immigrant status of the vendors but most of the store owners are themselves immigrants who have scrimped and saved in order to be able to afford to buy a shop. Stay tuned on this issue. We are going to expose the city's non-enforcement.