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NYC Sanitation Dept. to take over illegal street vendor enforcement

The New York City Sanitation Department is poised to take control over the city’s efforts to enforce rules against illegal street vendors — part of an effort by Mayor Adams to get a better hold on the issue.

Street vending regulations are currently enforced by the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, but that will end April 1, 2023 when the DSNY takes over in that role.

“Street vendors are a vital part of New York City’s economic and cultural landscape, but unregulated street vending is a quality-of-life concern that affects the health, safety, accessibility, prosperity and cleanliness of our streets, sidewalks and neighborhoods,” Mayor Adams said in a written statement to the Daily News.

“With DSNY becoming responsible for enforcing regulations around street vending, New Yorkers will enjoy improved quality of life, more accessible and cleaner streets, and a more welcoming city.”

The city’s worker protection agency will still issue vendor licenses, and the Health Department will continue to be responsible for permits and mobile food vendor inspections.

Enforcement of street vending became a flashpoint of controversy during former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration after the NYPD, which was responsible for enforcement at the time, arrested a woman selling churros in a Brooklyn subway station in 2019. A year later, de Blasio shifted that responsibility away from the police department, which won praise from vendor advocates.

An unlicensed subway vendor is arrested at the Myrtle-Wyckoff station Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The officers began to issue her a summons but arrested her after learning she had two warrants for failing to appear in court for two previous summonses for selling churros without a license.

But enforcement of vending remains a delicate issue. Last week, Councilwoman Sandra Ung (D-Queens) called on the Adams’ administration to crack down on vendors after complaints from storefront businesses that compete with the vendors, which have the advantage of not having to pay rent to do business.

“Everywhere I go, community leaders, elected officials and residents talk to me about unlicensed street vending,” DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch said to The News. “This is a problem the men and women of Sanitation are ready to get to work solving.”

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