The push to get vendors off sidewalks in Flushing

Sonia Rincón Image
Monday, March 13, 2023
The push to get vendors off sidewalks in Flushing
The vendors on Main Street in Downtown Flushing sell clothes, food, and household items. Sonia Rincon has the details.

FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- The vendors on Main Street in Downtown Flushing sell clothes, food, and household items. They have boxes of merchandise - and take up a lot of sidewalk real estate. Not a single vendor is allowed to be there - it was declared a no-vending zone in 2018.

"No vending zone means even licensed vendors aren't allowed to sell," said NYC Council Member Sandra Ung.

However, there does not seem to be any enforcement.

Ung, who grew up in the neighborhood, has started a petition not asking for any new rules.

"What I'm asking for is enforcement so the streets can be clear," said Ung.

The neighborhood business improvement district supports her petition. Stores have also spilled onto the sidewalks as they compete in the busy transit hub.

"I think everybody without a license shouldn't work here and people with a license should work here," said vendor Steve Walters.

Walters is a rare licensed vendor. It is a little less impossible to get a license if you happen to be a veteran, like him. He would like to see the NYPD be the lead agency on enforcement, but not the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

Eyewitness News tried to speak with other vendors, but none felt comfortable speaking on camera - but there was plenty of support for them throughout the neighborhood.

"They're not killing anybody or hurting anybody," said one supporter.

Ung also says she is not against the concept of vending, saying that any enforcement has to be handled with kindness. Vendors' immigration status should not be an issue - and they should also not lose merchandise.

"Confiscated means items would be vouchered," said Ung.

Ung says that vendors should have plenty of warning.

"There just cannot be any more vending in Downtown Flushing," she added.

The city is acknowledging the council member's petition to step up enforcement.

The Mayor's Office tells Eyewitness News that the city has some reform efforts underway and it wants to adopt thoughtful rules that balance the needs of all stakeholders like residents, businesses, and vendors.

However, it isn't saying whether any additional action is planned here any time soon.

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