We are a group of scholars, teachers, curators, public historians, and advocates examining food in the city, currently focusing on street food vending and markets from a comparative lens in the Global North and South.
One of City Food’s objectives is to work directly with groups and organizations fighting for spatial and social justice for city workers. This is achieved by diffusing our research and pedagogy to participatory planning advocates with the goal to strengthen democracy from below. The successful passage of Bill 1116B is an important landmark in that direction.
There are currently 3,900 vending permits in New York City. Most of those are traded in the black market at about $20,000 for one or two years. Vendors must buy those to vend, or risk operating on the streets without the requisite documentation, which can lead to hefty fines, confiscation of equipment, and or arrests. The bill was passed by the City Council on January 28, 2021, to address these elements.
Overthenext10years, the new bill will add 4,000 more permits and will retire old tradeable permits in black markets. The bill thus makes more permits available and affordable. New York City Police Department will no longer enforce vendor violations. A new enforcement agency will beformed, which will lead to less criminal liability, particularly for immigrants, who comprise most of New York City’s street food vendors. A 15 seat committee is being formed to ensure the successful rollout of Bill1116b. Four of the seats are reserved for street vendors.
* All 13 members of the women’s caucus in the city council voted for the bill and were crucial to chaperoning the bill through the rocky politics of the City Council and its various committees. Most vulnerable vendors are often undocumented immigrant women from South and Central America.