Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cart Them Away

The movement against the proliferation of street peddlers-and the impunity with which they often operate-is gaining steam from an important business entity. As the NY Post reports: "Scofflaw street vendors, who routinely ignore hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, ought to have their carts confiscated, the head of a Midtown business group said. "We have reached a point where the city must act to confiscate these carts, and more importantly, the good cart permit," Tom Cusick, president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, told The Post. "The city can then sell the cart and reissue the permit to someone on the long waiting list," he said.

And if enforcing the law leads to a winnowing of the number of peddlers, well, that's only to the good for the community: "Fifth Avenue is among the most crowded [spots] in the city," Cusick said. "When they ignore the 10-foot rule, they block part of the sidewalk and constrict the pedestrians into a more narrow path." The problem is especially heightened now at peak season for shopping in Midtown, he said."

It isn't only, Fifth Avenue that's inundated-and for a city supposedly looking to reduce congestion, there has been remarkably little enforcement of the proliferation of these street cloggers. Former Council member-now Comptroller-John Liu was a vigilant overseer of this issue as chair of the council's transportation committee; but we are looking for new chair, Jimmy Vacca, and Dan Garodnick, the new chair of the consumer affairs committee, to double team this issue.

Peddler enforcement, as we have belabored, is both a nightmare and a joke. But we sense that the tide has finally turned. We need a rational system of peddler placement and enforcement-the current regime is hopeless and needs a thorough overhaul.