Friday, December 30, 2005

Council Agenda (cont'd)

There is one major issue that impacts neighborhood retailers all over the city-the proliferation of street vendors that directly compete with store owners on the city's myriad commercial strips. These vendors not only take away business from heavily taxed and regulated stores, they also clog the streets in such a way that pedestrian safety is compromised.

In spite of these threats there has been little political will expended on behalf of store owners. Part of the reason for this is the degree of sympathy a number of elected officials have expressed for the hard-working immigrants who comprise a great proportion of the vendor work force. We feel that this sympathy, while not misplaced, overlooks the fact that neighborhood store owners are also predominately immigrants as well.

In any event, the store owners, as a major economic engine in NYC, deserve to be protected and, while the Council has been good on some of the regulatory issues facing this sector, it has been less aggressive in reining in peddler proliferation.

Fruit Peddlers Most Annoying

In this regard we need to especially single out one class of street vendor: the fruit and vegetable merchants who set up shop (literally) directly in front of food stores of all kinds. As we have written, the Council has already expressed a great deal of interest in this issue and we can expect a good deal of Council attention in the coming year to a problem that plagues store owners all over the city.

Garbage Grinders

Of course we'd be remiss if we didn't include the issue of commercial waste disposer in our discussion of a Council agenda for neighborhood businessman 2006. The clock ran out on our pilot program legislation at the end of 2005, but we're confident that the Council will act on legislation that had garnered the support of roughly 2/3 of its members.

The grinder issue, however, is not a parochial one that only snoring local food stores. It strikes to the heart of the larger policy concern over the disposal of all of the city's solid waste. We have hammered away on this ad museum but it will now be incumbent on the newly constituted Council to look at the city's SWAMP and provide the kind of policy insight that is demonstrably lacking on the mayor's side of City Hall.

NYC can no longer be held hostage to what we have labeled a "pump-and-dump" disposal policy of truism' and landfill'. It is both short-sighted and expensive. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic lack of vision at the relevant city agencies is met and compounded by the ideological blinders worn by the city's environmental advocates.

Unrealistic recycling visions and the romantic view of composites in the city combine with bureaucratic stupidity to put New Yorkers in a solid waste straight jacket. We're counting on the new Council leadership to set a saner course for the city.