Monday, December 29, 2008

Vexing Vendors

Last week the NY Daily News wrote about the efforts of Councilman David Yassky to clean the street vendors out of Court Street; the article underscores the inequity of allowing peddlers to operate with impunity right in front of tax paying stores: "A local politician has a message for Court St.'s vendors: Get lost. City Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) has proposed a ban on vending along Court St., and wants cops to confiscate merchandise sold by illegal vendors along the downtown thoroughfare. "It's just gotten to be too much," Yassky said. "On every block there are three tables of vendors blocking the street."

Of course store owners are vexed: "Yet many merchants find it hard to compete with the vendors, who don't pay rent or property taxes. "They're kicking my a--," said Charlene Heyliger, 55, the owner of Gourd-Chips Boutique. "They don't have overhead," she said. "I'm selling this for $5, but they're probably selling everything for a dollar."

With the mayor looking to increase our taxes, and with neighborhood retailers suffering from his inhospitable business climate, it's high time that the Bloomberg administration take corrective action: no competing street vendor should be allowed to sell comparable products directly in front of stores with similar merchandise. Yassky's right: "We're trying to market the Court St. office buildings to law firms and banks," he said. "The street vendors ... definitely create a bad impression." He added the vendors also pose "unfair competition" to area businesses. Yassky's proposal, outlined in a Dec. 11 letter to Mayor Bloomberg, applies to vendors selling goods other than food, books and artwork. Currently, licensed vendors are allowed on Court south of Joralemon St."

We need to bring the mayor's indifference to public awareness-and dramatize just how damaging his economic and regulatory policies have been to small store owners. It's just one more example of how Mike Bloomberg remains disconnected from the concerns of average New Yorkers.