ICYMI: Public Advocate Introduces Bill To Create Office Supporting Street Vendors, NYC’s Smallest Businesses

December 7th, 2023

Press Release

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams introduced new legislation in the City Council on Wednesday aimed at providing street vendors with city support as New York’s smallest businesses. The bill is part of a broad package introduced on street vendor rights, resources, and reforms, including bills from Council Members Pierina Sanchez, Amanda Farías, Shekar Krishnan, and Carmen De La Rosa.

"Street vendors are New York City's smallest businesses, and they present both a vital service to consumers and a vital economic engine for our city, especially for marginalized communities,” said Public Advocate Williams. “By designating a specific division of Small Business Services to support street vendors through my bill, the city can provide the education and resources that are essential to the success of these entrepreneurs. I'm proud to have a bill as part of this legislative package, many years in the making, and honored to partner with the Council and advocates who have brought us to this point of progress."

The Public Advocate’s bill, Intro 1268, would create a division of Street Vendor Assistance within the Department of Small Business Services, charged with providing training, outreach, and education to all food vendors and general vendors regarding entrepreneurship and compliance with all applicable local laws, rules, and regulation. It would also require the commissioner of small business services to update the department’s programs to facilitate services specifically for street vendor small businesses. This would give street vendors access to many of the same tools afforded to other small businesses.

Street vending in New York has always been a critical component of in the city’s economy. Nearly 20,000 individuals are employed as street vendors to date. The industry has played an important role in the city's growth, supporting immigrants, people of color, and military veterans to successfully operate the city’s smallest businesses, while creating entrepreneurs along the way.

The current ways in the city approaches and addresses street vendors often leaves many individuals harassed, unfairly arrested, and without adequate resources or clear regulations. Additionally, thousands of vendors have been waitlisted for food vendor permits, with some of them waiting for decades. While some legislative progress has been made in recent years, much more work remains to ensure the industry is supported and treated equitably.

This legislative package will reform the city’s current street vending systems, allowing vendors to build wealth within their neighborhoods by further regulating their small businesses, while still allowing them to provide New Yorkers with services they request on a daily basis. Additional bills within the package introduced Wednesday include business licensing and regulatory compliance of all mobile food and merchandise, reducing the criminal liability on food and merchandise vending, and siting rules and regulations for licensed and permitted vendors.

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