Unlawful Vendors

Written by admin on . Posted in Opinion and Column.

To the Editor:
Re: an anonymous vendor response to your article on book vendor Kirk Davidson, it is always good to hear that at least one vendor is obeying the laws. However, “Full Vendor Story” (letter, Aug. 6) is anything but.

The writer says, “There is a book vendor…in front of Zabar’s who works within [the] guidelines. He also sets up many tables, but he really does employ others to legally be able to do so.”

Although Rico is unquestionably a more pleasant, courteous person than Kirk, he is no more within the Department of Consumer Affairs guidelines than Kirk is. First, a vendor cannot “employ” others to work for them; vendor licenses may not be “transferred” to others. Vendors are not permitted to have tables (or anything at all) in or in front of tree pits or fire hydrants, or block the use of bicycle racks. Rico does both. Even when multiple tables are permitted, they must be at least three feet apart so that people entering and exiting cars have access to the sidewalk. Again, this is not the case in front of Zabar’s, where Rico’s set-up stretches for an unbroken 30 feet or so.

The writer also claims that, “Leaving goods on the street all night also allows the city to dispose of them if unattended, even for a second.” But enforcement is extremely difficult: not only do vendors often sleep under or near their tables (thus being able to claim that they are not “unattended”), but when the NYPD does enforce the law, the officers are required to count and bag every single book—and must return them when the vendor comes to the precinct. Council Member Gale Brewer has introduced a law that will help correct this Kafka-esque situation.

If the letter-writer has any real interest in protecting the rights s/he has and claims to be obeying, s/he should be speaking with other vendors and getting them to comply with the regulations under which they are supposed to be working.

Ian Alterman

Upper West Side
The writer is vice president of the 20th Precinct Community Council

Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

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