The New York City Departments of Sanitation, Transportation and Parks responded to multiple citizen complaints by removing chairs, tables and other vending equipment including food carts illegally chained to traffic signs and trees around 82nd Street.
The problem is widespread in Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst.
“It’s fine, because many times they had been warned to take away their things and some abuse, one puts a small table and they cover the entire corner with three or four tables. They abuse people,” said Rigoberto Lema, a street vendor.
The Parks Department told us in a statement that they “are in close contact with the Borough President and the community to address their concerns, including several spruce-related violations in Jackson Heights this week,” calling on New Yorkers to “not damage our trees, since piercing or exposing their protective layers — the bark and inner skin — can bring parasites and fungi to them and even kill them.
There are even sellers who support the removal of what was left by other colleagues, to whom the authorities gave at least two warnings.
Others like Gabriel, who resorted to selling masks and disinfectant to survive the pandemic, want to see more room for street vendors.
“They have lifted them up a lot from there and they put the tables back and everything. The city is kind of upset about that. Here they give me permission because my sister is the owner of that store and that’s why I can be here, but I I feel sorry for them. They should give them a ‘little permit’ to work,” said Gabriel Zapata.
“It’s a way in which they try to earn their daily bread. They don’t come to compete for business,” said Lilina Rea.
“There is no space to be able to walk. Putting even bicycles is not right, they do not leave space for passers-by. There has to be a space to put their things,” said a neighbor.
Many of the same vendors told us that the price of storing their chairs or tables somewhere could cost them much more than the cost of a street vendor license, which is around $200.