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Queens street vendors say they're being unfairly targeted by city

Queens street vendors say they're being targeted by city
Queens street vendors say they're being targeted by city 02:11

NEW YORK -- Street vendors in Queens say they are being unfairly targeted by the city.

A rally was held in Corona on Wednesday, calling on the Department of Sanitation to stop issuing violations to vendors, but critics tell CBS New York's Lisa Rozner it's needed because the amount of illegal business is out of control.

With signs like "working with dignity is not a crime," the roughly 100 families behind the newly formed Corona Plaza Street Vendors association had a message for the mayor.

Through a translator, Association President Rosario Troncoso said, "We haven't been able to have income for the last several days. We're unable to pay for rent, our bills."

The Department of Sanitation says two days last week, the agency removed five vending setups that were abandoned and issued one summons to a vendor for obstructing the sidewalk.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallied with the vendors Wednesday.

"They took away umbrellas and fans in the middle of a heatwave. That is cruelty," she said.

Monday, Mayor Eric Adams said he visited the area overnight last week and put a plan in place with the precinct commander.

"There was illegal vending and just dangerous food service," he said. "Then I walked along Roosevelt Avenue under the L line, and it was clear. There was open prostitution. It was just filthy, and there was just a state of disorder."

Counter-protesters crashed Wednesday's rally.

Queens resident Massiel Lugo says her dad owns a bodega nearby.

"My father pays his taxes," she said.

"They have been here, but it's oversaturated. It's gone too far," Elmhurst resident Ramses Frias said. "Have a schedule."

"There are only 853 general vendor licenses in New York City. You cannot even get on the waitlist," said Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, deputy director of the Street Vendor Project.

In 2021, the City Council did pass legislation to expand the number of permits issued, but there has been a lengthy delay in the process.

The Department of Health sent CBS New York the following statement:

"So far, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has received 104 food vending supervisory license applications and issued all 104 licenses. The 445 supervisory license applications authorized by the City Council for Fiscal Year 2023 have been sent to those on the waiting list. A vendor with this license can apply for a supervisory license permit at any time. Four vendors have received this permit and others are in the permitting process."

Advocates for the street vendors say they do take the time to clean up the area, recently installing garbage and recycling containers.

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