City holds off on plan to diversify street fairs after community groups fight local vendor rule

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

To the relief of a number of community organizations, the Mayor’s Office decided not to approve proposed new rules for street fairs for the upcoming year that would have required increased participation from local businesses. The proposal was aimed at sprinkling some local flavor into street fairs, which, despite where in the city they’re taking place, are often practically identical. The Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) of the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (OCECM) announced on October 28 that it would be extending the existing moratorium on street fair applications through 2017. A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held this Friday.

The city had previously proposed new rules that, among other requirements, would require 50 percent of vendors participating in street fairs to be from within the community district boundaries of where the fairs were taking place. Another proposed rule would have decreased the number of fairs allowed in each community district per year from 18 to 10.

Community organizers were worried that the new regulation requiring increased participation from local vendors would affect their revenue because not enough local businesses would want to take part.

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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Impeding street fairs will hurt New York

The following is an open letter to Michael Paul Carey, executive director, Office of Citywide Event Coordination & Management at the Office of the Mayor, from the president of the Tilden Democratic Club.

Dear Mr. Carey,

I write to you on behalf of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club and other concerned citizens of New York City concerning the proposed changes in the street fair rules. It is our view that these proposed changes will only serve to restrict New Yorkers’ access to all of the many benefits the street fairs provide.

The Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club has taken a booth at the Third Avenue Fair for over 25 years. As a result of our participation, we raised approximately $300,000, which was donated to very worthy community groups which included senior programs, libraries, shelter programs, homeless programs, hospital clothing rooms, art and literacy programs, cancer programs, music programs and programs for the disabled youth and adults among others.

The residents of Community Board Six are direct recipients of our street fair driven donations. Over 90 percent of the licensed street vendors live in New York City. New York City residents directly benefit by being vendors and consumers at the fair.

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