The Battle Is Raging Between Carts, Watchdogs And The NYPD

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some call it the “Fifth Avenue shuffle” — street vendors ticketed and told to move only to move right back once the police leave the scene.

The vendor violations have some calling for a street cart crackdown, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

The food vendors near Fifth Avenue know the rules. They just don’t bother to follow the rules or pay the fines.

“They’re constantly violating. They’re constantly accepting summonses, and then they don’t pay them. The fines build up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in most of these cases,” said Tom Cusick, president of the “Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District.”

Fifth Avenue business leaders say it’s a public safety issue as holiday crowds fill the pricey shopping district. Vendors routinely violate rules requiring them to stay 10 feet away from the striped crosswalk and stay clear from fire hydrants and utility poles.

One vendor Aiello saw was violating another regulation: he was supposed to be 20 feet from the entrance to a store. Instead, he was about 15.

The Fifth Avenue BID regularly asks the NYPD to enforce the rules, and on Monday Aiello saw an officer ticket four vendors at 54th Street and Fifth Avenue.

The vendors promptly moved their carts from the crosswalk, but guess what?

“When the police leave, they’ll come back,” Cusick said.

Indeed. An hour and 20 minutes later the vendors were all right back at the crosswalk.

“Not only does it become an issue of public safety, but all those fines that we are entitled to are not actually getting paid,” said City Councilman Daniel Garodnick.

Councilman Garodnick said the answer is to make the owner of the cart responsible for tickets, rather than the vendor who is working from it.

It’s shaping up to be a real street fight when the City Council takes up the issue next year.

Last year the city issued street vendors more than 13,000 tickets. Only about 400 were actually paid.

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