Food Cart

Anthony Behar

Advocates Fight Bill Limiting Street Vendors Near WTC

June 15, 2018 - 7:48 am
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A City Council bill wants to expand the zone in lower Manhattan where street vendors can't operate.

The sponsor of the bill, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, wants to expand the prohibited street vending zone on the south side to Liberty Street, on the east side to Broadway, on the West Side to West Street, and on the north side to Vesey Street.

Chin says increasing security is the chief reason behind the proposal and she says the legislation does not include a ban on street vendors in Zuccotti Park.

"I've been working very, very hard to minimize the impact as much as possible. So we're still looking at the area that the NYPD wants to expand and to see where else we could push back on, as I did on Zuccotti Park," Chin said.

Mohamed Attia, the co-director of a vendor advocacy group called the Street Vendor Project, believes the NYPD is racially motivated. He says 18 of the 22 vendors in the area are Muslim.

"So now the NYPD is talking about concerns that these carts can easily be turned into weapons that anybody can come with such a cart with a similar looking cart and instead of having a food cart they could bring a bomb to this area. That is so unacceptable from the NYPD," he said. 

On Twitter, the Street Vendor Project accused the NYPD of being Islamophobic, but said they do not believe Chin is Islamophobic.

"We believe she was pressured to sponsor the bill by the NYPD under the threat that if she did not do so, she would be portrayed as 'weak' on security," the group said.

Chin contends that her office has always been a safe haven for immigrant street vendors, but also acknowledges the changing landscape of the area.

"3 World Trade just came online last week and we need to make sure that the area is safe and secure for people who work there, who live around there and the visitors who come there every day," Chin said.

The NYPD says in a statement that the move is about security, citing growth and changes to the area surrounding the World Trade Center are the reasons.