Giuliani backs off sidewalk vendor ban

Tuesday, June 23, 1998

Street artists ...
Street artists and food vendors protest New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s crackdown on sidewalk sales.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani last week backed off part of his quality-of-life crusade, offering sidewalk vendors a reprieve from a planned ban on pushcarts in large portions of the city.

The city’s Street Vendor Review Panel, a group mostly made up of Giuliani appointees, voted last week to rescind a 144-block ban on sidewalk vending that was to take effect in July. Vendors said the ban would effectively bar them from the entire financial district and from most of Manhattan, the most lucrative vending sites in New York.

According to the Big Apple Food Vendors Association, about 350 of the city’s 3,100 pushcarts would have to move.

After the panel approved the ban last month, Giuliani said the measure would improve safety, ease congestion and keep the business districts running smoothly.

But at a news conference last week, Giuliani said he and the panel decided to delay the ban for now so they could try to “strike the right balance” between street vendors and restaurants, which compete with the pushcarts for business.

“What [the panel] wanted to do was to listen to more businesses and more vendors to make sure that the plan they put into effect is a sensitive one and a good one and accomplishes the purpose of allowing people to remain in business,” Giuliani said.

He said he hasn’t decided what changes need to be made. The panel plans to reconsider the ban later this summer after hearing more testimony.

Jeffrey Cicio, president of the Big Apple Food Vendors Association, said he wouldn’t declare victory because the ban would return.

“This is just a smoke screen,” Cicio told The New York Times. “They got a lot of bad press, and they realized they made a mistake. It got a little too hot in the kitchen, so they shut off the burners. But this mayor is not giving up.”

Related stories:

  • Group leader: Vendors will fight back if NYC curbs sidewalk food sales 5.26.98
  • Civil libertarians: Giuliani’s efforts threaten First Amendment 6.4.98