Republican Mayoral Candidates Say They Will Regulate Street Vendors

Street meat gives Republican candidates indigestion

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Republican contenders for mayor say they are fed up with food carts — a declaration that drew applause from Bay Ridge business leaders who battled controversial halal wagons, and boos from mobile vendor advocates.

Republicans John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and George McDonald and Democrat-turned-Independent Adolfo Carrion took turns roasting street sellers at an April 30 forum at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn Heights in response to a question about how they would seek to regulate the vendors.

Catsimatidis, who founded the Gristedes and Red Apple supermarket chains, complained that sidewalk merchants eat into the profit margins of grocery stores and other brick-and-mortar businesses — and claimed that the cheap eats sellers get away without paying taxes, rent, and insurance.

“I suffer from this predicament,” said Catsimatidis. “We have a cart parked right in front of our doorstep that only has to pay a little permit fee. Meanwhile, I’m paying hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The billionaire Greek immigrant grocer vowed to change street vendor permit laws to only allow the merchants to park in certain specialized areas, blocks away from stores selling similar products.

The other hizzoner hopefuls echoed Catsimatidis’s complaints and solutions.

“They shouldn’t be allowed on the streets selling the same products as stores,” argued frontrunner Joe Lhota, pointing out that in the past, regulations allowed only military veterans and people selling literature to do business on the sidewalk.

Carrion claimed that pavement peddlers discourage people from setting up traditional shops.

“It makes no sense putting your life savings into building a good store and have a street cart outside selling the same product at a significant discount,” the former Bronx Beep said.

Homeless advocate George McDonald alleged that cops let mobile vendors park their vehicles near their carts and illegally feed the meter all day.

“There’s no enforcement of any regulations,” said McDonald.

It was music to the ears of Pat Condren, head of Bay Ridge’s 86th Street Business Improvement District, a merchants’ group that battled a pair of halal carts parked at the corners of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue last year.

“This just shows this is a citywide issue, and we’re all on the same page,” said Condren.

But the Street Vendor Project, a pro-sidewalk-cart group, pointed to studies showing that street carts actually help storefront shops by drawing greater foot traffic.

“I know there’s this feeling and negative opinion brick-and-mortar businesses have toward vendors, but that’s what the research has shown,” said Street Vendor Project attorney Archana Dittakavi.

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio also called for new laws limiting where street vendors could set up last year.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 10:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Who would have guessed that conservatives take the side of entrenched interests? If you ever want to know the difference between a conservative and a liberal, that's the only question to ask. Are you on the side of restricting privilege or do you want to expand it?
May 2, 2013, 6:31 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
entrenched interest = tax paying entity.
May 2, 2013, 7:33 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Exactly. Catsimatidis avoids competition, becomes a billionaire, pays taxes, gets the ear of the government, and can further avoid competition to make more money. Great cycle. Excellent use of deploying the power of the state to keep competition away. Should be in text books about political economy.
May 2, 2013, 7:55 am
Max from Brooklyn Heights says:
Are food carts the reason that Gristedes' prices are regularly 30-40% higher than Fairway's, and often even higher than those at the neighboring bodegas?
May 2, 2013, 11:52 am
Kevin from Manhattan says:
Lies! The vegetable stands/fruit carts are the best thing to happen to the city! Those "small businesses" significantly over charge for essential fresh fruits needed to keep New Yorkers healthy. Republican want to turn NYC into obese states like those in the South in the name of "protecting small businesses". Guess what George, those fruit stands are small businesses too!
May 2, 2013, 1:09 pm
ty from pps says:
Which taxes are these dumbasses talking about? Property taxes? OK. I'll give 'em that. But what about the MAJORITY of taxes collected by any retail business -- i.e., sales tax. These businesses are not exempt from these. They are also no exempt from payroll taxes for employees or income taxes for profits.

If Catsimatidis is paying "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in property taxes for one of his stores, he's doing something wrong.
May 2, 2013, 2:33 pm
JAy from NYC says:
did'nt we cover this last year? With everything that is going on this is what we want to spend time on?
May 2, 2013, 5:37 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Their stance on the food carts don't surprise me at all. One of them works for Gristedes, so of course he will be against them. Also, Republicans are known for being against the lower classes hence being elitists. If the merchants don't want to see people going to the vendors, then stop gouging the prices so much. Most will want to get something if it's cheaper, not if it's more pricey.
May 2, 2013, 6:43 pm

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