About the Campaign

A campaign to increase the number of permits and licenses, increase space for vending, and bring justice to NYC vendors!

In 1979 & 1983 City Council put limits on the number of vending licenses and permits issued. Food vending permits were reduced drastically, from almost 12,000 to only 3,000, & merchandise licenses were arbitrarily capped at 853.

• Permits are sold in the black market for upwards of $25,000, when they initially cost $75-$200
• License-holding vendors are not able to be self-employed because they cannot obtain a permit
• Unlicensed vendors risk legal penalties


Lifting the caps will benefit not only street vendors, but also all of New York City.  Increasing the number of permits and licenses will bring:

  • Increased city revenue
  • More street food diversity in the city
  • Vendors can obtain permits and thus be self-employed
  • Unlicensed vendors can legalize their status as workers
  • More jobs for vendors and others who want to be vendors
  • Decriminalization of street vending
  • Wider reach of regulation and health inspection
  • Increased access to fresh fruit and vegetables through larger NYC Green Carts presence

Despite attempts at making an honest living, vendors are subject to a litany of unjust regulations which make their work an incredible challenge. Since the early 1980s, an arbitrary cap has been placed on the number of available food permits and general vending licenses. This cap effectively makes street vending illegal for thousands of vendors and has led to the creation of a black market where permits (originally purchased from the City for $200) are now sold upwards of $20,000.

Lifting the caps on permits and licenses would not only decriminalize vending for the thousands of hard-working New Yorkers, but also generate a significant increase to New York City’s revenue. As vendors, workers, politicians, business owners, and community-based organizations, we support a bill that would lift the caps and allow members of our communities to work legally and justly.

This project is funded in part by the Unitarian Universalist Fund for a Just Society