Queens Council Member Sandra Ung introduced two pieces of legislation to address concerns over quality of life on New York City’s public sidewalks.
The first piece of legislation will require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a site visit before the issuance or renewal of a stoop stand license. This license permits a business to display merchandise on a public sidewalk and can often lead to congestion problems.
Ung also introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of a commercial chair broiler in connection with a mobile food vending cart. This is due to the pollution and particulate matter created from charbroiling food which can have substantial impacts on air quality.
Ung said that displaying merchandise outside retail stores is a good way to attract customers, but even when they adhere to all the rules and regulations, the stands can still be obstacles for pedestrians.
“Some areas are simply unable to handle the added congestion on the sidewalk,” Ung said. “My legislation would ensure that our sidewalks remain clear, allowing for the safe and seamless movement of all pedestrians.”
Once a business applies for a stoop stand license, Ung’s legislation would require DOT to examine the location and determine if the display would interfere with the use of the sidewalk. DOT will be required to consider the area’s pedestrian volume and any other factors they deem relevant.
If a stoop line stand is located within 10 feet of a permanent structure and it narrows the path for pedestrians for a distance of ten feet or more, it will now be considered an obstruction.
Ung, who represents the neighborhoods of Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill, Fresh Meadows and Flushing, said that the two pieces of legislation would make a big impact in busy retail areas such is Flushing.
“This issue poses a particular challenge to some of our most vulnerable community members, including the elderly and those with mobility impairments,” she said. “Our sidewalks are vital arteries that serve as conduits for community interaction, and they should be navigable by everyone.”
Any mobile food vending cart that violates the proposed legislation prohibiting the the use of a commercial char broiler would be fined $400 for the first offense, with subsequent violations resulting in a $1,600 penalty.
Ung said that the consequences of a businesses using commercial char broilers can result in people having respiratory and health issues.
“Residents, including vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly, deserve to live in an environment free from unnecessary health risks,” Ung said. “My legislation would strike a balance between our vibrant street food culture and public health by promoting alternative cooking methods that are both less harmful and more sustainable,” she said.
Ung has made alleviating street congestion in Flushing a priority. In April, Ung joined Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga on a walking tour down Main Street to address public safety concerns over street vendors in Flushing.