Unregulated food carts are a recipe for disaster along commercial corridors, according to a pair of Ridge leaders who weighed in on the beef over a displaced Fifth Avenue halal vendor — a month after the mystery benches appeared in its usual trading spot.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) condemned the carts at last week’s Community Board 10 meeting, claiming they’re allowed to sell grub on the sidewalks, unlike traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants which are nonetheless required to maintain their properties.
But the pol clammed up when one resident groused that someone had taken the law into their own hands by planting the street furniture to displace Middle Eastern Halal, who was forced to move down the block from his former site between 86th and 87th streets.
“Some of the things that did happen were a little bit beyond the line there,” the councilman said.
Board Chairwoman Joanne Seminara said she had asked the city to revise its arbitrary codes for mobile food operations, which are free to hawk their meals on wheels wherever they please, as long as they don’t obstruct doorways, crosswalks, fire hydrants and bike racks, according to the health department.
She added the food carts infringed on public space.
“You don’t have a right to claim one corner as your own,” she said. “The spot doesn’t belong to anyone, and someone can put anything they want in that spot — even a public bench.”
Seminara quickly distanced herself from the ongoing bench mystery, that resulted in a bar owner filing complaints against the wagon with the health department after being slapped with a harassment lawsuit.
“We don’t endorse that bit of theater,” she said.
Patrick Condren, manager of the 86th Street Business Improvement District said his group isn’t responsible for removing the benches, which it didn’t install. them in the first place.