New Yorkers gathered in support of the “Churro Lady,” otherwise known as Elsa, on Sunday after mayoral candidate Andrew Yang called for greater enforcement action against unlicensed street vendors.
The November 2019 incident in which Brooklyn cops seized Elsa’s churro cart in the Broadway Junction subway station broke hearts and provoked a decision in City Council in January 2021 to offer more permits and less enforcement of some of the city’s poorest entrepreneurs.
“You know what I hear over and over again – that NYC is not enforcing rules against unlicensed street vendors. I’m for increasing licenses but we should do more for the retailers who are paying rent and trying to survive,” Yang tweeted.
Grossly uninformed statement. Vendors bring business to commercial corridors, increasing foot traffic and economic growth for all. Read Up on the facts: https://t.co/0qKCiZdOax
— StreetVendorProject #FundExcludedWorkers (@VendorPower) April 11, 2021
While a Yang spokesman did not elaborate as to what the candidate’s statement calling for enforcement entailed, he did explain that he was in support of legislation expanding opportunities for legit sellers and that he was endorsed by Councilwoman Margaret Chin who sponsored the legislation formally passed in January to hand out more permits.
“Andrew emphatically supports the latest legislation passed in January by Council Member Chin and advocated for by the Street Vendor Project that will help bring people into the legal market,” Jake Sporn, a campaign spokesman for Yang’s campaign, said. “In the spirit of the recent reforms, as mayor, Andrew will make sure that vendors and local businesses work together to revitalize New York City’s small business economy.”
While Chin expressed during the Jan. 28 City Council meeting that the bill was “not perfect,” it was celebrated as an end to punitive measures against unlicensed vendors which has often ended in their property being confiscated by NYPD or health officials never to be seen again.
Another added benefit to the bill is that it will end black market dealings in vendors permits in which holders are known to charge exorbitant amounts from those they are transferring their license over to.
Detractors to the bill included Councilman Mark Gjonaj who argued that increasing the number of street vendor permits would lead to conflict over sidewalk space between brick and mortars and kiosks as commerce makes its way outdoors due to the pandemic.
Read this thread now about a woman who was arrested by the NYPD in the subway for selling churros. Read the whole thread. Watch all the videos. Then try to tell me you truly think these cops are making our city safer. This is heartbreaking. We cannot allow this to go on. https://t.co/tHUphH2aLB
— Eliza Orlins (@elizaorlins) November 9, 2019
Headline: Elitist NYC Mayoral Candidate @AndrewYang Attacks Street Vendors Struggling to Survive During Global Pandemic From Comfortable Home Outside New York
— Carlos Hernandez (Carlos Eats) (@carloseats) April 11, 2021
If Andrew Yang spoke to just one person working with street vendors or consulted any immigrant group, he'd delete this call for the status quo: which always ends as violent criminalization of immigrants.@VendorPower https://t.co/bCnL0e8X3V
— raf (@rafaelshimunov) April 11, 2021