NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A hot New York City startup is keeping expenses down by turning a city sidewalk into a dispatch office.
Every morning, the business takes over public space and uses it for private – and says it is allowed to do so. But as CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported exclusively, the city determined late Friday afternoon that it is illegal.
Aiello asked the general manager for field operations for the private startup Homer Logistics if he had permits for their operation on West 50th Street. He responded, “Um, I can’t answer that.”
Every morning, they take over the sidewalk on 50th Street between Eleventh and Twelfth avenues – dozens of bike couriers who work for a startup called Home Logistics.
“They’ve been here for a while,” a woman said.
They have been there since last winter, in fact, when the company posted pictures to Facebook of workers on the snowy sidewalk.
Months later, the private business has quite an operation in the public space – complete with a dispatch desk, a bike repair center, and generator power to it all.
The company even posts notices on the truck, as if it were an office breakroom. CBS2’s Aiello asked passersby if they could imagine if every business that so desired set up something similar.
“No, I can’t imagine what the city would look like! Bad enough as it is!” said Helen Bentley of Hell’s Kitchen.
“It would be ridiculous, be ridiculous,” said Nathan Vernon of Hell’s Kitchen.
Around the corner, a film crew has a city permit to operate on the sidewalk. Up the street, a fruit vendor also has a permit.
But Homer Logistics told CBS2’s Aiello “it’s been advised” that it does not need a permit.
It is not like Homer Logistics doesn’t have money to lease space for its operation. The company bragged in a news release this summer that it has raised $15 million from investors in the last two years.
Late Friday, the city Department of Consumer Affairs reviewed the setup and told CBS2, “This activity is illegal.”
DCA notified the NYPD, which may be delivering tickets if the operation persists.
Before the city declared the activity “illegal,” Homer compared itself to FedEx or UPS, and claimed it did not need a permit or license from the Department of Consumer Affairs.