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How Many Street Vendors is too Many Street Vendors? Question of Permits in NYC

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Advocates for New York City's street vendors marched today to call on City Hall to lift a cap on permits given to street vendors. They say because there's a limit and a long waiting list to get a permit, workers who want to sell food are forced to secure vending carts from the black market. But the issue may not be so black-and-white.

George Zoulis has been working his Greek food cart on the same spot on Fordham Road in the Bronx for 18 years. While the city only charges cart owners $200 to obtain a permit to sell, Zoulis says vendors who are forced to rent don't have it as easy as him.

"If you are someone that wants to work, you are someone who is on the wrong side of the fence because you're now having to fork out a couple hundred times the face value on the black market," said Zoulis.

Basma Eid with the Street Vendor Project says those who can't get a permit and can't afford the rent prices put themselves at risk to earn a living.

"If you're unable to afford a $25,000 permit, which many people are not, they risk being arrested or being ticketed for not having a permit," said Eid.

But George Zoulis actually does not want to see the cap lifted. The reason? He says the streets would turn into a wild west free for all for space. "People are not going to respect the unwritten law of don't vend next to somebody else, kind of thing. Have that kind of respect for your fellow vendor," said Zoulis.

Cap or no cap, Zoulis says he's going to continue staking out his spot on Fordham Road.

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