Thursday, January 17, 2008

Anti-Cart Attack Coalition Forming

The opposition to Intro 665, a bill that would allow an additional 1500 push carts on city streets, is generated significant opposition from a diverse set of constituencies. As of now, it appears that two of the largest locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers-1500 and 342-will be joining with Local 338 of the RWDSU to oppose the measure because the labor folks believe that it will threaten union jobs, while possibly creating a class of exploited workers.

Labor opposition is important because of the political influence it has at the council. What makes it even more significant in this case is the fact that Local 1500 played a pivotal role in Speaker Quinn's ascension to her leadership post. Labor's concerns may open up the process for some significant changes in the proposed law.

Joining with labor are a wide array of business folks-from independent and chain supermarkets concerned about unfair competition, to Korean green grocers who have established fresh fruit and vegetable outposts all over the neighborhoods that the legislation targets (areas that are allegedly bereft of available fresh produce). In addition, we expect that a number of Hispanic chambers of commerce will also lend their support to the opposition.

Finally, there are the community and civic groups-some on the East Side of Manhattan, but others from all over the boroughs-that are concerned with pedestrian safety issues and the quality of life threat that they believe is posed by a peddler proliferation. This is an issue of pedestrian safety that Councilman John Liu, chair of the council's Transportation Committee, should jump all over.

Intro 665 targets a number of key low income areas for its cart attack. This is done by police precinct. Here's how it breaks out:
"Fresh fruits and vegetables permits, in addition to being designated for use exclusively in a borough as specified in subparagraph (a) of this paragraph, shall be designated for use exclusively within the police precincts specified below and shall be subject to the same time and place restrictions for vending in such areas as other food vendors:
(i) Bronx: Police Precincts 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52;
(ii) Brooklyn: Police Precincts 63, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 83, 90, 94;
(iii) Manhattan: Police Precincts 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 32, 33, 34;
(iv) Queens: Police Precincts 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 113; and
(v) Staten Island: Police Precinct 120."

What this means is, that within these precinct neighborhoods there is no restrictions on the locations along commercial strips where peddlers can set up; and if a certain location in front of a large green grocer or supermarket is a real pedestrian traffic generator, then we might expect that multiple numbers of carts will gravitate to take parasitic advantage of the prime location: all in the name of an access that Intro 665 claims these neighborhoods lack. There's more rotten than the fruit in all of this.