Tag Archives: vending

Book Project: What Works: Placemaking in Bryant Park. Revitalizing Cities, Towns and Public Space

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I have just contracted with Rutgers University Press for the publication of What Works: Placemaking in Bryant Park. Revitalizing Cities, Towns and Public Spaces in the Spring of 2019. I am so fortunate to be working with the experienced publishing professionals Peter Mikulas and Micah Kleit on this project.

Vending: The Platonic Form

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What’s Possible

Despite the doom and gloom of my last post, the possibility of improving the regulation of vending does exist. In the most recent session of the City Council, Intro. 1301-2016 was proposed (http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2858236&GUID=EFEAD05C-4A4E-47E3-ACDA-ADEAA0FB3F2A&Options=ID%7cText%7c&Search=vending), a report was issued and a hearing was held. The Council’s press release summarized the bill’s provisions and the Council’s objectives in proposing it (http://labs.council.nyc/press/2016/10/11/124/). The upshot of the legislation is to double the number of food vendor permits. No action has yet been taken by the Council on the bill. The precatory language of the bill, and the language of the press release reflect the substantial interest on the part of Council members in promoting vending and the limited recognition of or interest in the negative impact vending has on downtown revitalization efforts. Continue reading

Selling on the Sidewalk

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When I went to work for Grand Central Partnership among my first assignments from Dan Biederman was to figure out how to deal with sidewalk issues: vending, newsracks, newsstands, payphones and making public toilets more available. In dense urban centers sidewalks, while public space, are highly contested territory, and the regulation of activity on them in New York City is arcane and labyrinthine. Not only pedestrians care about sidewalks. Adjacent property owners not only have responsibility for cleaning and maintaining their sidewalks, but they care about what happens in front of their multi-million dollar investments; particularly with its impact on ground floor retail. In midtown Manhattan, many buildings have vaults under the sidewalks that expand their basement space – and so are concerned about how much weight is put on them and whether anyone is punching holes in them.

A range of people have traditionally engaged in commercial activity on the New York City sidewalks – and these uses are heavily, if often ineffectually, regulated. There are separate governing schemes for four kinds of sidewalk venders: general merchandise, food, veterans and first amendment vendors. The Department of Parks and Recreation has its own scheme for concessioning venders within city parks as well as on adjacent sidewalks, and even sidewalks across the street from a park! The City permits individuals to erect newsstands at any sidewalk location that meets certain siting criteria – with no discretion by the City with respect to the location. If the proposed structure fits – the applicant is entitled to a permit. The Department of Transportation manages the enforcement of some (but not all) of these rules and is ultimately responsible for the physical condition of the sidewalks and with seeing to it that sidewalk uses don’t interfere with transportation (bus stops) or public safety (fire hydrants). Continue reading