Koo bill restricting Flushing street vendors passes City Council

Koo bill restricting Flushing street vendors passes City Council
Photo by Michael Shain
By Carlotta Mohamed

City Councilman Peter Koo’s (D-Flushing) legislation to restrict street vendors and sidewalk obstructions threatening pedestrians’ safe passage in bustling downtown Flushing passed the City Council last week.

The amended version of the bill, Intro 969-A, which the City Council voted to pass Sept. 26, removed of stoop line stands from the restrictions in order to allow the city more time to study its impact as such a restraint would be a first in the city, according to Koo.

Koo first introduced the bill to the City Council in June.

Last year, the Flushing community celebrated the completion of up to nine feet of widened sidewalks on Main Street. The new space was intended to provide critical relief to the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use the transportation hub’s more than 20 bus lines, subway, LIRR, and others who visit Flushing for its restaurants and shopping.

But the widened sidewalks led to a massive increase in street vending of all kinds, according to Koo.

“This legislation looks to return the sidewalks of one of NYC’s busiest transportation hubs back to the people who commute and live here,” Koo said. “The amended bill opens some blocks to vending, and while I am open to discussing the creation of a designated vending zone in the future, we first need to address the problem of congestion that exists today.”

According to Koo, space has been occupied by illegal street vendors and stoop line stands, where people are selling everything from health insurance, counterfeit handbags, bed sheets, pots and pans, fruits and vegetables, cell phones and even socks.

“As a small business owner, I have no objection to people innovating in order to turn a profit, but I wholeheartedly object to those who do so at the expense of their community,” said Koo.

Under Koo’s legislation, food vending will be prohibited from noon to midnight within the following boundaries:

Main Street from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue; 38th Avenue from Prince Street to 138th Street; Prince Street from 38th Avenue to 39th Avenue; 39th Avenue from College Point Boulevard to Union Street; Lippman Plaza from 39th Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue; Roosevelt Avenue from College Point Boulevard to Union Street; 41st Avenue from College Point Boulevard to Union Street; Kissena Boulevard from 41st Avenue to Barclay Avenue; and Sanford Avenue from Frame Place to Main Street.

General vending will be prohibited within the following boundary: Northern Boulevard; East Union Street; South Sanford Avenue; and West College Point Boulevard.

Licensed veterans and vending protected under the constitution’s freedom of speech provisions would be exempt from the restrictions, Koo said. The legislation takes effect 180 days after it becomes law.

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.