Make Room for New Food Carts and Leave Space to Walk

The City Council is expected to move swiftly on a bill to eventually double the number of food vendor permits. Before the package of bills known as the Street Vending Modernization Act passes, advocates want to ensure that it includes more safeguards to avoid obstructing crowded sidewalks.

New York City capped the number of vendor permits at 4,235 in the 1980s. But many more people than that make a living by vending: There are currently more than 10,000 vendors operating throughout the city, most of whom are immigrants, according to the Street Vendor Project. The city sells vending permits that must be renewed every two years for $200, but the same two-year permits can fetch as much as $30,000 on the black market.

The reform package, an initiative of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, aims to phase in 4,445 more permits, lowering barriers to entry and reducing the threat of fines faced by the thousands of vendors who currently operate illegally.