Brooklyn Boro

LISTEN: Why so many street vendors don’t have permits

November 14, 2019 Brooklyn Eagle Podcast
Elsa tells the press about the night police detained her and confiscated her churro cart.
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Councilmember Margaret Chin proposed her legislation in September of last year. It would gradually expand the number of permits issued to street food vendors, releasing new ones in batches over the course of a decade. 

Matt Shapiro, the Street Vendor Project’s legal director, educates street vendors on their legal rights. He thoroughly understands the difficulty of acquiring a legal permit in this industry. 

“There is harsh, strict enforcement against the vendors all the time,” Shapiro told Brooklyn This Week. “They want to be legalized, they want to be formalized, and the city should help them.”

State Sen. Jessica Ramos is pushing a bill, which would prohibit cities from limiting the number of permits they release. She spoke at a rally in response to the detainment of the churro vendor. 

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“All we need is to make sure that the caps that have stayed the same since 1983 — before I was born — that those caps are lifted so our folks can make a living and keep dreaming and keep reaching for that American dream,” Ramos said.

To learn more about the limitations faced by food vendors in legalizing their business, and what is being done to change it, listen to the full episode above.

  • Interview with Matt Shapiro at 1:23
  • Interview with Margaret Chin at 5:42

Our host Lawrence Madsen is a native New Yorker. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History. He is a volunteer leader with the disaster relief group Team Rubicon.

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