On Wednesday, the City Council approved a bill that would reduce the maximum fine given to street vendors for blocking the sidewalk in half from $1,000 to $500. The bill – introduced over two years ago but spent most of that time languishing in committee – moved quickly through the Council in the past two weeks after the Street Vendor Project publicly shamed Council Speaker Christine Quinn into action. Quinn is the leading candidate for Mayor in this September’s Democratic primary, according to a poll released yesterday by Quinnipiac.
Bay Ridge Councilmember Vincent Gentile stood nearly alone in opposition, casting one of only three “no” votes against 44 in favor. Gentile has long held the view that street vendors have played by rules that grant them preferential treatment, while traditional brick-and-mortar stores have had to contend with a hostile tax and regulatory environment, and that bills such as this exacerbate the double-standard.
“Earlier this month, a small business owner in my district was fined $1,000 when her $30 pet grooming license expired,” Gentile said in a written statement. “Does that seem fair to you?”