Standing Up for Veteran Street Vendors

Today's NYC Council Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing held a hearing on three different bills proposing to restrict access of street vendors around the World Trade Center and downtown Flushing, as well as a ban on a certain type of char-broiler used by food vendors. Details of the hearing and these bills are HERE.

As part of our 2018 Action Agenda, we are continuing to speak up for veteran street vendors. We were unable to attend today's hearing, but submitted the following letter to the committee:

Dear Chair Espinal and Committee Members,

This letter is to voice the concerns of our membership regarding the limitations proposed for street vending specified in Introductions 0959, 0969, and 0970. Street vending is New York City’s oldest entrepreneurial venture for veterans going back to the 1890s, when New York State legislators enshrined into state law the promise that wounded Civil War veterans could make a living as street peddlers, unfettered by legal restrictions. This was but a small promise made to veterans by a grateful city and state—and a tradition that remains deploy rooted in the NYC veterans community today.

Veterans are a special category of vendor because of their service and sacrifice for our nation, and I remind you that it is our city’s duty to ensure that its promises to returning veterans are fully honored.

As this committee considers new restrictions to a street vendor permitting and regulatory system badly in need of holistic reform, we urge you to ensure veterans receive appropriate exemptions and preferences to fulfill New York’s original promise to veterans that they will have the unfettered ability to sell goods on our streets. In the 1980s, Mr. Trump led prohibitions on veteran vendors around his midtown properties—and we hope the Council does not follow this path of exclusion with “not in my backyard” restrictions on veterans wishing to earn their living as street vendors.

We further urge this committee to support the streamlining and clarification of the currently confusing and sometimes contradictory regulatory guidance between different city and state agencies for veterans seeking to attain vending licenses and operate legally and successfully.  

We will continue to monitor this legislation and advocate for the rights of veteran street vendors.