Advocacy Group and Council Member and Score Win for Street Vendors
Street vendors—who are mostly ineligible for benefits like unemployment or health insurance, and have recently suffered losses of more than 80 percent of their usual revenue—will no longer be subject to enforcement by the police.
A non-profit based in Lower Manhattan has successfully lobbied for street vendors to be removed from the jurisdiction of the NYPD, as a means of furthering social justice. The Street Vendor Project (part of the Urban Justice Center, based at 40 Rector Street) has pushed for years to take enforcement of regulations governing street vendors away from the police.
In the aftermath of weeks of protests related to police violence, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a recent press conference that, “I don’t want to see the NYPD involved in street vendor enforcement. That’s something that the [Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity] recommended that we’re putting into action immediately.”
Street Vendor Project director Mohamed Attia (himself an immigrant from Egypt, who worked for nearly a decade selling hot dogs, halal chicken with rice, and smoothies from a street cart) responded, “this was a victory hard fought by each member of the Street Vendor Project community over the past two decades, who spoke up to say that street vendors never have been criminals, and never should have faced arrest for selling $1 churros, or for vending too close to a sidewalk.”
He added that each time street vendors, “spoke about the issue, recorded a police interaction, posted on social media elevating street vendor voices and contributions to New York City—each was a step towards this change.”
Mr. Attia made clear, however, that this is merely a step forward in his view, and not a final victory. “Street vendors need clarity on what civilian agency will be responsible for vendor regulation,” he noted. “And it’s time to lift the caps and pass [a bill currently before the City Council] for 4,000 new food vendor permits. This bill has 30 co-sponsors and deserves a vote.”
Finally, he said, “we demand resources to be redirected to supporting black and brown communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, especially undocumented New Yorkers who have been left out of all relief.”
Mr. Attia reflected that, “ninety percent of the Street Vendor Project’s members are low-wage immigrant workers who rely on busy streets in order to survive day to day. Without a safety net to fall back on, they are forced to continue to work, risking their health and well-being in the process.”
He also observed that, “as primarily immigrant small business owners and workers, street vendors are ineligible for government support, such as paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, or even most loans and grants offered to small businesses, making an already dire situation critical. Many are left with fear and confusion as to how they will support themselves and their families in the coming days.”
In the weeks after the onset of the pandemic coronavirus, but before the Mayor’s announcement, the Street Vendor Project alleged that fines against its members were continuing, in spite of the increasingly desperate circumstances street vendors faced.
Street Vendor Project director Mohamed Attia (himself an immigrant from Egypt, who worked for nearly a decade selling hot dogs, halal chicken with rice, and smoothies from a street cart) responded, “this was a victory hard fought by each member of the Street Vendor Project community over the past two decades, who
The Street Vendor Project was supported in this campaign by City Council member Margaret Chin, who notes that many vendors suffered sales losses of more than 80 percent of their usual volume during the pandemic. “While I’m thankful that the City’s new emergency grant program will provide some relief to small businesses,” she said, “it’s disappointing that once again, street vendors are left on their own. We know that the catastrophic economic fallout of this crisis is felt by everyone, but the continued multi-agency enforcement against street vendors compounds on the stresses and record losses confronting them.”
“I urge the City to re-evaluate its priorities,” she continued. “Instead of spending time on squeezing money out of this vulnerable immigrant workforce, we must create a comprehensive relief package that is inclusive of all types of businesses and workers. And that includes street vendors.”
Ms. Chin is calling upon the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to ensure workers who are employed by food cart or truck owners (regardless of immigration status), are eligible for any upcoming emergency relief funds for workers, and to suspend enforcement actions against for any violations that do not significantly impact public health and safety. She is also asking City Hall to waive outstanding tickets (issued since January).
Mr. Attia has also set up a COVID-19 Street Vendor Emergency Fund, which aims to provide relief payments of $200 to as many of the organization’s 2,000-plus members as possible. This fund has raised $138,000 (toward its ultimate goal of $175,000) in the 90 days since being launched. For more information, or to donate, please browse:
Removing the police from enforcement and regulation of street vendors is part of a broader push to scale back the power and jurisdiction of uniformed law enforcement in New York City. Additional proposals to move erstwhile NYPD functions to other agencies include reassigning responsibility for school safety and traffic enforcement. In this context, the City Council recently enacted $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD’s $6-billion budget.
CB1’s Outgoing Chair Reflects on Decades of Service as He Passes the Torch
Anthony Notaro, a Lower Manhattan community leader for decades and chair of Community Board 1 (CB1) since 2016, concluded his tenure on June 23, when Tammy Meltzer was elected to succeed him.
If the aphorism about leadership that holds, “decisions are made by those who show up” is true, then Lower Manhattan had benefitted from the guidance of a born decision-maker, because Mr. Notaro is somebody who has always been defined by his habit of stepping forward, speaking up, and getting involved. A resident of Battery Park City since the late 1990s, Mr. Notaro joined CB1 shortly after moving to Lower Manhattan. To read more…
The Election Is Over, But the Counting Continues
The preliminary results in the contested race to represent the 65th Assembly District (which stretches from the Battery to Vesey Street on the West Side and traces a jagged line between Broadway and the East River, topping out just above Houston Street, on the East Side) in Albany favor incumbent Yuh-Line Niou over challenger Grace Lee.
Of all the ballots 7,214 ballots cast in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, according to the City’s Board of Elections, Ms. Niou garnered 4,440 (or slightly more than 61 percent of the total), while Ms. Lee took 2,741 (or 38 percent).
City Plans Black Lives Matter Street Mural for Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan will soon have new piece of street art: the Administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has commissioned a Black Lives Matter mural for Centre Street, between Worth and Reade Streets. The painting will consist of large letters emblazoned on the roadbed, and is among five such installations, with one planned for each borough.
This project was inspired by the impromptu creation of a similar mural on Fulton Street, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn a week ago. When word spread of this project, Mr. Blasio showed up at the site and helped paint it. A few days later, he announced that this section of Fulton Street was to be closed to vehicular traffic for the remainder of the summer.
Pandemic and Economic Downturn Impact Local Leasing
A new report from brokerage Douglas Elliman and appraiser Miller Samuel indicates that rents are trending downward in Lower Manhattan, while the inventory of vacant apartments is ballooning. These tidal shifts appear to be attributable to the health crisis associated with the pandemic coronavirus, and the economic slowdown it has triggered. The monthly Elliman Report for May documents that new lease signings have fallen at an unprecedented rate, while vacancies have surged to a new record.
For all of Lower Manhattan, the report finds that the median rent is now $3,895, which represents a 7.3 percent drop from one month earlier when the median rent was $4,200, but a slight increase of one-half of one percent from last May, when the median figure was $3,875.
Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers.
Tribeca Community On Display
All of Us Thank All of You
Fine artist and long time Downtown resident Adele H. Rahte has spent the stay-at-home period designing and creating these fabric collages representing the people in our community as a special form of thank you to the essential workers of our community and city for keeping us safe.
On display during the month of July at the Tribeca Community Window Gallery located at 160 West Broadway.
‘A Fraudulent Scheme to Evade the Rent Stabilization Laws’
FiDi Renters Seek Recompense for Years of Rent Overcharges; U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Overturn Tenants’ Victory
More Financial District tenants are going to court to demand restitution from years of illegally high rent, on the heels of a 2019 ruling by New York State’s highest court, which found that as many as 5,000 Lower Manhattan apartments had been illegally deprived of rent stabilization benefits.
The most recent suit was filed on behalf of tenants at 90 Washington Street, a 397-unit rental building located between Rector and Joseph P. Ward Streets. This filing follows similar legal actions on behalf of tenants at 63-67 Wall Street, Ten Hanover Square, 50 Murray Street, 90 West Street, and 53 Park Place.
1534 – Jacques Cartier is the first European to reach Prince Edward Island.
1613 – The Globe Theatre in London burns to the ground.
1927 – The Bird of Paradise, a U.S. Army Air Corps Fokker tri-motor, completes the first transpacific flight, from the mainland United States to Hawaii.
1956 – The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 is signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, officially creating the United States Interstate Highway System.
1974 – Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from the Soviet Union to Canada while on tour with the Kirov Ballet.
2006 – Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that President George W. Bush’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates U.S. and international law.
1858 – George Washington Goethals, American general and engineer, co-designed the Panama Canal (d. 1928)
1861 – William James Mayo, American physician and surgeon, co-founded the Mayo Clinic (d. 1939)
1852 – Henry Clay, American lawyer and politician, 9th United States Secretary of State (b. 1777)
1940 – Paul Klee, Swiss painter and illustrator (b. 1879)
1964 – Eric Dolphy, American saxophonist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1928)
1967 – Jayne Mansfield, American actress (b. 1933)
2003 – Katharine Hepburn, American actress (b. 1907)
Previously Published Downtown News
CB1 Endorses Push to Expand VCF Coverage to Pandemic Illness
Community Board 1 (CB1) has signed on to a campaign that aims to expand the eligibility criteria of the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) to include illnesses related to the outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus.